Thursday, December 31, 2009

100 Books in 2009

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2009 was to read at least 100 books. To prove that I made it (I'm currently halfway through my 101st book!), I'm listing them below...

Month Title Author

1. January The Tale of Despereaux Kate DiCamillo
2. January A Great and Terrible Beauty Libba Bray
3. January Inkheart Cornelia Funke
4. January A Separate Peace John Knowles
5. January An Abundance of Katherines John Green
6. January The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam Anne Marie Fleming
7. January Team of Rivals Doris Kearns Goodwin
8. January Princess on the Brink Meg Cabot
9. January And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks J. Kerouac, W.S. Burroughs
10. February Sandman: Brief Lives Neil Gaiman
11. February Princess Mia Meg Cabot
12. February Princess Forever Meg Cabot
13. February The Thief Lord Cornelia Funke
14. February Pretty Monsters Kelly Link
15. February Looking for Alaska John Green
16. February Sandman: Worlds’ End Neil Gaiman
17. February The Diary of Anne Frank Anne Frank
18. March Jurassic Park Michael Crichton
19. March Eldest Christopher Paolini
20. March Goose Chase Patrice Kindl
21. March The House of the Scorpion Nancy Farmer
22. March The Subtle Knife Phillip Pullman
23. March Witch Baby Francesca Lia Block
24. April Haunted Chuck Palahniuk
25. April The Ramsay Scallop Frances Temple
26. April 13 Little Blue Envelopes Maureen Johnson
27. April Blueberry Girl Neil Gaiman
28. April This Place Has No Atmosphere Paula Danzinger
29. April Sorcery and Cecelia Pat Wrede & Caroline Stevermier
30. April The Last Lecture Randy Pausch
31. April Over Sea, Under Stone Susan Cooper
32. April The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins
33. April The Forest of Hands and Teeth Carrie Ryan
34. May Suite Scarlett Maureen Johnson
35. May How to Ditch Your Fairy Justine Larbalestier
36. May The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax Dorothy Gilman
37. May The Brimstone Journals Ron Koertge
38. May The Book of Three Lloyd Alexander
39. May The Plot That Thickened P.G. Wodehouse
40. May The Almost Moon Alice Sebold
41. May House of Many Ways Diana Wynn Jones
42. May Travels of Thelonious: Fog Mound Susan Schade & Jon Buller
43. May The Loud Silence of Francine Green Karen Cushman
44. June Enter Three Witches Caroline B. Cooney
45. June The Diana Chronicles Tina Brown
46. June Devil Bones Kathy Reichs
47. June Tithe Holly Black
48. June The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks E. Lockhart
49. June So Yesterday Scott Westerfeld
50. June Hit and Run Lawrence Block
51. June Sleeping Arrangements Madeleine Wickham
52. June Enchanted April Elizabeth Von Arnim
53. June The Far Side of Evil Sylvia Louise Engdahl
54. July Dealing with Dragons Patricia Wrede
55. July Rebel Angels Libba Bray
56. July The Last Olympian Rick Riordan
57. August The Higher Power of Lucky Susan Patron
58. August Ten Things I Hate About Me Randa Abdel-Fattah
59. August Saturday Ian McEwan
60. August The Coyote Road Editors Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
61. August The Boyfriend List E. Lockhart
62. August City of Bones Cassandra Clare
63. August Little (Grrl) Lost Charles De Lint
64. August The Sweet, Far Thing Libba Bray
65. August The Girl With No Shadow Joanne Harris
66. August Walking on Glass Alma Fullterton
67. August Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen Dyan Sheldon
68. August Slam Nick Hornby
69. September City of Ashes Cassandra Clare
70. September Don’t Look Down Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer
71. September Catching Fire Suzanne Collins
72. September The Legend of Hugo Cabret Brian Selznick
73. September City of Glass Cassandra Clare
74. September Spindle’s End Robin McKinley
75. October Princess Academy Shannon Hale
76. October Gregor the Overlander Suzanne Collins
77. October Going Bovine Libba Bray
78. October Live From New York Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller
79. October Anansi Boys Neil Gaiman
80. October Each Little Bird That Sings Deborah Wiles
81. October The Shakespeare Stealer Gary Blackwood
82. October Shakespeare’s Secret Elise Broach
83. October Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane Suzanne Collins
84. November Bat 6 Virginia Euwer Wolff
85. November Virtual War Gloria Skurzynski
86. November Geektastic Editors Holly Black & Cecil Castellucci
87. December Girl At Sea Maureen Johnson
88. December Snow, Glass, Apples Neil Gaiman
89. December Special Topics in Calamity Physics Marisha Pessl
90. December The Wish Gail Carson Levine
91. December Odd and the Frost Giants Neil Gaiman
92. December The Pirates in an Adventure With Scientists Gideon Defoe
93. December The Pirates in an Adventure With Ahab Gideon Defoe
94. December The Waters and the Wild Francesca Lia Block
95. December Fire and Wings Editor Marianne Carus
96. December My Fair Godmother Janette Rallison
97. December Midnight Girl Will Shetterly
98. December Everlost Neal Shusterman
99. December Let It Snow John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle
100. December Rise and Shine Anna Quindlen

My rules were fairly simple: I counted books I read myself and audiobooks. I did not count textbooks or articles that I read for school. No abridged titles allowed! I did not add a book to the list until I finished it, which means some books I started in June ended up on the list in September. The eagle-eyed viewer might notice that #27, Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman, is a picture book. It is the only picture book on the list, and I added it (a) because I was excited about the book, and (b) because it symbolizes the 42 picture books (no exaggeration there!) that I read over the course of my Children's Literature class this fall.

So there you have it... my reading in 2009. My resolution for next year will have more to do with quality than quantity. This year's list is heavily populated by titles in the Young Adult, Children's Books, Science Fiction, and Fantasy genres. While I love all these books and will continue reading them, this year I'm going to challenge myself to read more in the Classics, Non-Fiction, and Literary Fiction genres.

Here's to 2010! Happy reading!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I sprained my ankle Saturday morning, the bad kind of sprain that might as well be a break even though "no bones were harmed in the making of this injury." It's okay. I'm icing it, taking medicine. Things are going well. But when I went to the doctor's office this morning to get X-rays taken, I was reminded of something. A man raced to hold the door open for me. Another person in the parking lot stayed to make sure I got into my car okay and even held one of my crutches as I fumbled in my purse for the car key. These small kindnesses and encouraging actions really made my day.

At the beginning of the movie "Love Actually," Hugh Grant's character has a monologue about love which plays over images from the arrivals gate at an airport. You see people hugging, grabbing each others' bags, kissing, laughing, glad to see each other, uniting, glad to be here... The point is that "love is actually all around," and that sometimes we just get blinders on and forget to look for it. We hear a lot about how the world is a dangerous place these days, and about all the bad things people do to each other, but the reminder is there: look for the good that's out there too. Because you'll find it.

I forget this sometimes, which may be why I've been blessed with weak ankles - consider them a reminder, my very own "Love Actually" monologue if you will.

My first bad sprains were about seven years ago. In high school soccer I sprained my left ankle, which healed up in time for me to return halfway through the season, but then sprained my right ankle on the first game back. It was frustrating and saddening, but people were so nice about it. Suddenly everyone would hold doors open for me. Classmates helped me carry my bags. Cars that would normally honk at me to get out of the way waited for me to crutch my way across the street.

My next major ordeal with sprained ankles happened in 2006. I was studying abroad in Europe, and accidentally stepped in a hole made by a missing paving stone when dashing across a busy street in Florence. CRACK. My foot turned, and I stumbled the rest of the way across the street, using my purse as a makeshift crutch and biting my lip to hold back cursing and tears. That was only a couple days into our week-long spring break trip to Italy, so I hobbled around Florence, Rome, Naples, and Capri with a foot the size of a softball and the color of a decaying blueberry. But time heals, right? And soon we were back in London and my foot, though a little weak, was pretty much healed.

A couple months passed, and suddenly it was two days before we were due to fly home to the States. My friends and I were planning to go out for the evening, so I dashed upstairs to grab some shoes so we could leave. My foot, that same caught-in-a-pothole-in-Florence ankle, came down wrong on the top landing, and instead of a cracking noise, this time it sounded more like a shattering crunch. Instantly a huge, hard lump of something that felt distinctly like bone jutted out from my foot at a very unsettling angle.

I was rushed to the emergency room, and let me just say as an aside here - experiencing socialized medicine firsthand when you are in desperate pain in a somewhat-foreign place is a comfort and a joy. It was wonderful having someone care more about my pain and physical condition than my insurance provider and method of payment. My flatmates were waiting out in the waiting area (including the girl who paid the taxi fare to get me to the hospital knowing at that point I couldn't afford to buy groceries, let alone pay her back for it), and I got to talking to a fellow patient - a seventy-year-old woman who'd taken a spill on the sidewalk on her way to a dinner party and had hit her head. All of these people helped comfort me and keep me calm.

People at the airport made jokes to cheer me up as I sped past the lines at security in a wheelchair. A week later I was exiting a subway car in New York (the first and only time I've been to the city was on crutches from that ankle injury), and one of the subway car monitors (I don't know what you call them... Not the drivers, the ones that sit in the cars near the middle), poked his head out and said to me, "You can do it! Don't get discouraged."

My parents have been to New York only once, in the 70s, and had always told me horror stories about how the people there are so rude. But as I crutched around the city, I discovered quite the opposite to be true. I encountered a security guard who chased me down to tell me an easier way to get into the Museum of Natural History, a woman in Little Italy who helped me duck into a doorway when an unexpected downpour could have easily soaked me to the bone, a street musician who improvised a song to cheer me up, and a kind of sketchy-looking guy in Chinatown who tried to illegally sell us designer purses and who grunted sympathetically when he saw my foot and said, “I been cut once, on my leg. It’s shit.”

So I guess that's my point: People really do care. People do nice things. People don't like seeing other people in pain or need. People go out of their way to help others. People do these things every day all over the world, consciously choosing to make the heroic gesture or to offer the encouraging word.

I bet you're one of these people, so thank you.

Seriously, thank you.

Happy Holidays, everyone. And thanks for everything you do that contributes to the peace, love, and kindness that make the season bright.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I have a problem with the word “damsel.” It really isn’t fair of me to take it out on the word itself, but the connotation it has derived is horrendous. I can’t hear the word without finishing the phrase with those two additional words: “in distress.”

The word “damsel” implies helplessness. It implies a passive object, not an active person. I much prefer “maiden” or “princess” or even “my lady.” A lady or a princess or a maiden can at least fight back. But to be a tie-me-to-the-railroad-tracks-or-feed-me-to-the-dragons damsel? That would be a most boring and terrible fate.

No thank you!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Irrepressible Shadow

I wrote a song tonight in honor of a fictional character. Well, that's not exactly true. Or at least, that's not the full of it. People do that all the time. Search YouTube for just a second and you know what I mean.

I wrote a song for a girl named Anastasia. You won't know Anastasia, at least not this particular girl named Anastasia, because she hasn't escaped from my head yet. She's been trying. She first slipped onto a piece of paper (technically, a computer document) almost precisely 12 years ago. She's been haunting me ever since.

The words are simple, and they're repeated often.

She is there,
at the back of everything I think or do or say
She is there,
my irrepressible shadow

Why do you do this to me,
my lovely golden girl?
Anastasia, my love, my only
Why do you do this to me,
my lovely golden girl?
You were a part of me,
the deepest part of me.

But now you're gone...
You've gone away
And I'm a shell of the thing
that you were
that I was
standing here today

Reprised Verse
She was there
Do you know what it was that she was to me?
She was my
sense of adventure.
She was there
Do you know what it was that she was to me?
She was my love of life,
my sense of mystery and wonder

Reprised Chorus
Why do you do this to me,
my lovely golden girl?
Anastasia, my love, my only.
Why have you gone away, so it seems, never to return?
You were a part of me
The deepest part of me

Now you're gone...

Yeah... so that was the song. Didn't mean to lapse into it there, but it just sort of happened. The sad thing is, that doesn't do it justice. The melody is what makes it.

I was a little perturbed at first. I mean, look at the lyrics. There's this girl named Anastasia in my head, in my thoughts, she's basically been stalking me for 12 years. She's fictional, too, so there's the whole why-are-you-treating-this-figment-of-your-imagination-like-a-real-person thing.

Here's the answer: because she is a real person.

She is pretty much the person that I was when I was eleven years old: full of wonder, full of hope, full of the idea that the world actually had some mysterious potential. That line about "she was my sense of adventure." It's true! That first draft of Wishbook, the story and the world she belongs to... anybody reading it now wouldn't see what I see in it. I think it'd be like anybody looking at Niggle's painting of the tree (from Tolkien's short story "Leaf by Niggle"). When Niggle looks at the painting, it's this imperfect thing that will never truly capture the beautiful, perfect thing that's in his head. And I feel like anything I try to write to let Anastasia become a real person in a story of her own is going to be a bunch of painted leaves on a canvas, nothing more.

It's still sketchy, I guess, writing a song to a fictional character. Especially when I call her "my love, my only." But that's not a lie either. I loved those days when I saw adventure in the unlikeliest of places. I love the person I once was. And that person is my "only," the only thing I want to get back to.

So I wrote it like a love-lost song, but maybe it's a love-found song. Because the fact that she's resurrecting herself after so much time... she's been in hibernation these last few years, barely poking her head up, and when she did, it was never to impose herself and insist on being heard... she usually just let me squash her back into the boring, predictable shape my life takes now.

Anastasia, come back. I mean it. Insist on your story being heard, and maybe I'll finally get the guts to tell it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Yet Another Poem

If shame had a name,
or evil a form,
it would sound like my syllable
and move like my shape.

And if hope had a tune
or goodness a gait
I’d be tone-deaf
and limping from place to place.

If the grave were a pillow
I’d rest my head,
and seek a better world
among the dead.

But I live and I ache
and I err and I take
and I make pointless blunder and wretched mistake
time and again, feeling hollow and fake,
till I wish either my heart or the whole world would break—

There is a void that stretches like a promise
where no one knows my shadow or my name.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dan White

I've admitted some very terrible things in my life, sometimes in forums far more public than this. Still, I hesitated a little in writing this post. But the desire for catharsis won out over the desire for human decency.

Sometimes I think I understand what it's like to be Dan White, the man who assassinated Harvey Milk.

Isn't that horrible? What a horrible sentence. What a horrible human being.

This isn't about being gay, so don't go there for even a minute. This is about disliking someone, about not understanding why everybody likes them so much, about knowing you'd be unpopular if you expressed the way you really felt about them, about how they're managing to accomplish things and become this kind of figure you've secretly always wanted to be, and about how that doesn't seem fair, how you've always wanted it and worked for it and hoped for it, much longer and harder than they have probably, and how they don't even seem to try and it just happens to them, and you shake your head and say, "WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!?" all quizzical-like. It's about the anger and hurt and confusion and at the same time a sense of mesmerizing jealousy-mixed-with-utter-loathing that has you almost obsessed with them in some weird kind of way. It's about this mixture of emotions that would lead someone to do something stupid. In my case, I can't say the person I feel this way about has anything to worry about life-wise. I've only ever touched a BB gun. I hate violence, and I used to be able to say with some conviction that I hate hate. Now, though...

Now that I find myself capable of writing such statements as the one I wrote above, how can I be sure?

I don't want to hurt this person. In fact, I wish them well. The thing they have is something I used to be obsessed with wanting. Now I've come to realize that it's really not good for me at all. So in a way, I don't envy them. I just shake my head and wonder what it is that everyone else sees in them. How can everyone NOT see the annoying way they seem to turn the conversation so it ends up going away from what you were talking about and toward whatever it is that they're currently thinking? How can people find ENDEARING the way they so casually talk to you like you're smaller or less significant than them somehow, in the unconsciously didactic way adults usually talk to children? Or maybe they don't do that to everyone. Maybe they do that to me because they sense in me something everyone else can see except me. Maybe I am stupid and childlike and not capable of dealing with the grown-up conversation, maybe I've been relegated to the child's table at dinner this whole time without even knowing it.

This is a post about hate, I guess, but it's also a post about justice. Because the world isn't just, and the scales are never balanced, and they swing to and fro all the time.

Maybe this is her time, and maybe this is not mine. Maybe I will never have a time.

I am not Dan White, but I have felt what he felt. It's how I choose to respond to those feelings that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On Magic Wands

I bought a fancy wand when I already had a wand. It was a wooden dowel from Wal-Mart which I cut and whittled smooth. I bought a woodstain pen in the right hue and stained it a beautiful ash. It's plain, untapered, and the ends aren't perfect, but it's the right length and it weighs well in my hand and it's mine. It's always been mine.

But I was in the merch room and they had these fancy wands out, with tapered ends and special braided-twine grips and one of those felt pretty good in my hand, so I bought it. Packing to come home, though, I laid it on the bed, forgot, and sat on it. It snapped in two.

I have an ordinary wand and a broken fancy wand, and yet I've never had magic. Not then and not now. Never, really.

I don't know why this makes me so sad.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are: My Take On the Film

I saw the "Where the Wild Things Are" film today, and it was... ___________. I mean, how do you really fill in that blank? I think it's actually a great thing, a testament to the filmmakers, that I can't leap in and say, "it was fantastic" or "it was scary" or "it was different" or weird or depressing or enlightening, etc, etc. It wasn't exactly how I'd imagined it, but as I was trying to explain to my mystified father, that was a lot of the appeal of the original book: it's a spare story, without a whole lot of words, and as a result a lot of the story takes place beyond the edges of the page, in the imagination of the reader. That's one of the strengths of the movie, that it goes in there and it fills in some of the pieces, but obviously those aren't going to match everything I've carried around inside my head since I was five years old and first read it.

This is a film about being a child. Max is, of course, the central child, but I would argue that the Wild Things are more children than he is: Carol's frustrations, fears, and angry outbursts, Alexander feeling like no one ever hears him, all of the Wild Things in their quest for approval or attention - they are a (literally) super-sized depiction of the same feelings and situations Max faces. When the dirt fight dissolves into a petty argument, hurt feelings, and taking sides, I was reminded of many a similar playground battle. Some people in reviews have slammed the film as being too "depressing," but I think it's just a problem of preconceived notions. Yes, the Wild Things in the book seem to have a jolly good time on their rumpus, but on the whole they are needy creatures who latch on instantly to this new authority figure, and who are beside themselves with grief when he wants to leave (to the point that "we'll eat you up, we love you so"). Jonze and Eggers took the implied sadness (and sadness is something a child is capable of feeling quite strongly) and brought it to full fruition on screen.

But it's not only this emotional aspect that rings true to what it's like to be a kid. Even elements of the plot seem like they came from the mind of a child: a scene in which Max crawls (whole and unharmed) into KW's stomach to hide from an enraged Carol, only to find a live raccoon inside busy snacking on something and as happy as can be. Or how KW's new friends are two owls named Bob and Ted who speak in hoots that everyone seems to understand except Max and Carol. Or even the slightly disturbing sight of Carol ripping off Alexander's arm in the midst of an argument, only to have Alexander replace it in a later shot with a stick (as weird as it sounds, this is definitely the kind of thing a kid would think up!). It doesn't make sense logically, but it makes sense emotionally, which is a lot of how we perceive the world as a child.

The other thing I loved about this movie is how DANGEROUS it is. The creative urge is to build things, and Max and Co. do plenty of this, but they also have soooooo much fun knocking things down and tearing things up. When Max first meets the Wild Things, Carol is in the process of ripping their huts into shreds in the midst of an angry tantrum. There are other scenes that involve taking hunks out of trees or knocking them down completely, dancing in the wreckage, glorying in the destruction. Someone gets their arm ripped off. Max's crown and scepter are dug up from a pile of the bones of former "kings". Dirt battles and wild rumpuses and sleeping in one giant pile (when you're the tiny one among huge monsters) - Max is always on the edge of real peril. He gets dirty, hurt, tired, and often risks his life. Even a seemingly innocent scene where he stands up on a cliff top overlooking his "kingdom" nearly becomes a disaster when a Wild Thing rushes up behind him almost upsetting his balance and sending him hurtling over the edge.

And far from being disturbing, I thought: HOW WONDERFUL. There is a beautiful and astounding line where Carol is trying to express his frustration to Max and says, "Do you know how it feels when you keep losing your teeth, and you notice them getting farther apart, until they all fall out and you just don't have teeth anymore?" I think this is what happens to us when we grow up: our imaginations, our minds, lose their "teeth," lose that danger, that edge. We stop thinking of the world as a big and scary place; we lose that sense of danger and wonder little by little until it's completely gone. If you think about it, we really don't have to "lose our teeth"; we just let it happen. If we want, we can fight for them, keep a little sharpness in our bite.

Parents who try to ban books are the sort of people who think children need to be shielded or protected from the horrors of the world, but what this film (and the book that inspired it) shows more than anything is that there is a landscape of terror, violence, anger, sadness, wonder, beauty, and joy inside each child. You can't censor your children's nightmares; you can't take a child's imagination off the shelf. Kids feel real feelings and struggle with real issues and are exposed to real dangers and unsettling situations. Rather than being the kind of person who would take this away - who would hide the boat or burn the wolf suit or send Max to a shrink to squelch his "unhealthy fantasies" - I hope more and more people will choose to be like Max's mom. Maybe you can't shield your child from everything, but you can always be there with huge hug and warm meal at the end of the day.

So in conclusion, I thought "Wild Things" was ___________. It's too big for pages, too big for screens, too big for words. It is a story that will always exist outside the edges of things, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finally, A Little Bit of Wisdom Seeps Into This Jack-O-Lantern Brain

Do you know how sometimes you forget the obvious things, the things that stare you right in the face?

I used to think life was a continuous string of boxes, and once you reach the end of one box, you lift a flap and shimmy on into another. The box of "childhood" might lead to "high school" then "college" then "job." And I assumed "spouse" and "family" boxes came soon afterward.

Now I know better. Life isn't boxes, it's just one damn thing after another. Some of it makes sense, but you're lucky if even one piece fits into place. Most of the time it's a collage of crazy swirling randomness, a fist-on-the-keyboard gut-wrench of notes that still somehow comes out sounding like a tune if you play it right.

I'm a good liar. A fucking great liar. And that's because I'm a good storyteller. Problem is, I forget sometimes that my life is life, a big hodge-podge, never-fully-in-my-control kind of thing. I get into a jam or reach a plateau and think, "How can I write my way out of this one?" What do we have, character-wise? A 23-year-old with no sense of direction who's sick of being asked what she's going to do with her life. What about backstory? Oh, she likes books? Let's make her a librarian then. Kind of a lousy job at creative writing. A good creative writer would know never to go with the obvious. Just because she likes books doesn't mean she wants to spend her time reshelving them. Maybe she wants to fill her days doing the kind of thing that inspires books. What that thing is, that's anybody's guess, but I should know better... I'd get yelled at by my peers if I underestimated my character, if I didn't give her enough depth, a chance to grow or change or show she's something more. So why the hell do I do that to myself?

After this semester, it's no more library school for me. I want to move to a new city, try a new thing. I don't know where, or what, or even why, but I want to get some guts. I want to up and leave this town. It's about damn time.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


October, October...
It has arrived
And I'm so happy
to be alive!

Autumn creeps in
with a change on the wind
October, October,
when magic begins.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

1, 2, ...

Is it good things that come in threes, or bad things? I'm thinking good.

This morning at 3:36am my best friend gave birth to her first child, a baby boy named Jackson Elijah Snyder, which makes me an aunt!!!

Today after a long day at my wearying workplace, I came home to find an email saying I'd made it through the first cut for a job opportunity at my local library. They'll be reviewing my resume and I should hear from them later this week as to whether I should come in for an interview.

Which has me thinking... if it really is good things that come in threes, what's the third???


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mortal Instruments: My Dream Cast

So... the whole "Imaginary Casting" thing has its appeal. I got sucked in BIG TIME. So here are the people I came up with to go with each character. I'm not saying they'd be perfect; these are just people that sprang to mind.


I like Rachel Hurd-Wood. Last I saw her was in "Peter Pan," so when I saw some recent interview footage I was surprised at how much she's grown up. She'd need to drop the British accent, but I think she'd be great.


Jace is really difficult. As much as Alex Pettyfer is a fine actor, I think he's a bit too... male model-ish? A bit too... *something*. He just didn't seem like Jace to me. I would LOVE it if Nicholas Hoult could pull off the blonde look. He has that swagger, that arrogance mixed with flashes of vulnerability, and does sarcasm quite well. He too would have to lose the British accent.


I looooove Alec, which is why this was so hard for me. And the Gaspard guy everybody keeps mentioning seems way too angular. I mean, I know that's what Cassandra Clare says she had in mind, but he doesn't match what I had in my head. I like Ricky Ullman for Alec, though he'd have to be waaaay less smiley than his normal demeanor.


EDIT: Now I'm really liking Daniel Henney. He's half Scottish, half Korean, but more importantly... he's 100% HOT. Plus I think he could really rock the glitter!

I'm going with Adam Lambert, because of this picture.


When I first read the description of her, I thought immediately of Megan Fox. After getting to know the character better, I much prefer the popular suggestion of Summer Glau.


Another difficult one. I wasn't opposed to the popular choice of Kristopher Turner until I looked at his IMDB page and realized he was nearly 30! I think David Henrie (yes, the older brother from "Wizards of Waverly Place") with some glasses would work.


Totally love Jurnee Smollett. Hear hear!


David Sutcliffe immediately popped into my head. No, that's a lie. Actually, what popped into my head was "Rori's dad from 'Gilmore Girls.'" Then I looked him up and found out his name was David Sutcliffe.


Viggo Mortensen = spot on. Although Ralph Fiennes could do it well too. But there could be some law I don't know about that says once you portray an evil villain for a major fantasy series on screen you're not allowed to do another.

So there you have it... a few of my choices. But I like seeing what everybody else thinks!!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Man Jack (Skellington)

But what if he hadn’t just
Lost. That. Ache?
Even though Christmas wasn’t
His. To. Take,
Sometimes you can’t help what you long for,
When you know what you’re born to you’re wrong for.

But what comes next?
What after that?
It’s beautifully done but that
Part. Feels. Fake.
And the happy-end moral I
Just. Won’t. Take.
I like a happy end, make no mistake
But too often that longing
That lack of belonging
It’s just a thing that will not go away.

What then do you say?
What then can you say?

(For reference, see this.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Possible Solution

I've come up with something I think may help alleviate the panic-attack feeling I get every time I think about school. There's one class in particular that's just evil. I hate the way it sounds; I don't want any part in it. If I'm unsure if I'm even going to continue in the program after this semester, I may as well avoid the stupid class (it's also the one that meets on Thursdays, ruining many of my plans and weekend getaways). According to the stafford loan site, my loan is good as long as I'm enrolled at least half time. And since 9 hours is considered full time for grad work, my 6 hours would qualify as at least half time.

So I drop the class I don't like, I persevere with the two others (Children's Materials and Introduction to Library Science), and decide things at the end of the semester. If I continue with the program after all, this little stunt may mean graduating in 2 years instead of a year and a half. No cost difference, just extra time... Ah well. But if I don't, then it let's me avoid a massive and unnecessary headache (in the form of stupid Info Sources class), while maintaining some semblance of sanity.

I am considering this option: because all the money and registration stuff comes through me, I'm considering not telling my parents that I'm dropping the Thursday class. I'm considering making Thursday my own unofficial "class." Designating it as a specific time to go somewhere away from the house and just WRITE. I don't know where... the library? A coffee house? I need to figure that out. But basically... from 5 - 9ish each Thursday (4 hours!) I'd have time to be creative in my own way. NOT to do homework. NOT to focus on school or HPA stuff. This would be time that everybody else thought I didn't have but that I do... secret time. Me time. Sacred. I like this idea a lot.

So what seemed like a bad thing may in fact be a good thing. Maybe something good will come of this. We shall see. It gives me a little time to make decisions; it gives me time to gain some perspective and reevaluate maybe taking my depression meds and see if that helps with this stupid the-sky-is-falling attitude I have about school. But if by the end of this semester I still don't have a peace about this, well... what am I out, really? All things together, about 1200 bucks. Maybe 1300. Not horrible. And that's for 2 classes that, even if they don't end up going toward a degree, at least add to my knowledge about books and the people who are responsible for their distribution and organization in public settings.

Okay. Okay, yes. This will work, I think. I'm going to sleep on this; I'm not dropping officially yet. I've got til Friday, but I kind of want to do it tomorrow.

Goodnight. Dear sweet Jesus, I hope this all works out okay in the end.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oh my

Oh my. I don't know what I expected. But I hoped I'd found something that worked. I was, I think, very wrong.

I hated the class. And I think what I hated was the fact that it took something I loved (books) and made them BORING. We talked about how to select books or how to select tools to help you select books, but the text book was written by somebody who thinks science fiction and fantasy lit are the same thing, who obviously doesn't have a respect for genre lines, and who thinks books are tools of the trade not portals into other places, not lakes in a wood between worlds.

Oh, what did I expect? To meet likeminded people? Well, it's true, they were all book people, but they were all teachers and media specialists, people taking this class to append their current job situations. And of course, they were right to, because this is a class for them. I kept wanting to stop talking about the books as things and to start talking about the books themselves; and honestly, this isn't a literature class. We're only going to be discussing books in terms of selection and how they fit in with managing a good library. And I just wanted to talk about books, about theme and character and plot and style and choices the author made and what he or she could have done differently, and what do you think this repeating symbol is trying to communicate when related to this character's inner struggle, etc etc? There is none of that. Oh man, oh man.

Because, I think I'm in the wrong field. Maybe I should take my master's in literature. I don't want to waste my money paying for classes when I honestly don't think I'm going to complete the program now. It's a year and a half of misery for a job I don't think I want anymore. But that's my problem... seriously? One class and I'm ready to quit, just like that? But who am I kidding...? I never really wanted it; it was just a way to get people to stop asking me what I was going to do with my life. If I had some sort of framework in mind, then they'd leave me alone and stop asking. Nevermind that I don't know the answer and am just faking that I do. I was selling my dreams short because I wanted a school setup I could afford without being in debt for any real period of time. But that's so stupid. And I'm going to be missing stuff I'm excited about and want to do (concerts, mostly, but still...) and spending all this money on something I have no interest in.

When I could be taking a writing class, a religion class, a literature class, a history class... something that actually interests me.

I have no talent. I have no initiative. I have no passion. I have no drive. I have no interest in what other people think of me (but this is mostly callous I've built up over time. If I anticipate the apathy or the blatant dislike then I can't really be hurt by it). I already know that I'm fat and awkward, so I don't allow myself to be surprised that no one would ever love me romantically speaking me. I'm a realist. Thought it kills some portion of my soul every time I think that, I'm a realist.

I remember my Intro to Psychology teacher talking about depression. He said that, interestingly, depressed people often have the most realistic image of themselves, compared to others who fool themselves into thinking they're prettier, more well-liked, more cool or kind or important than they really are. He said that it's the "fooling ourselves" part of life that makes us happy, healthy human beings, and that when we lose that very important aspect of our self image and start seeing ourselves in a harsher but perhaps more accurate light, suddenly we become depressed.

I tried to explain this to my mom once and she was horrified. She thinks this guy was insane, especially saying such things to such vulnerable folk as college students. (Umm... no comment). But I happen to think he's dead on. I can fool myself into thinking I look better than I do, when really I'm fat and, as a result, quite ugly. I can fool myself into thinking my job is enough, when really, sitting in that room of librarian wannabes I realized I was the only one in there that had what Amber always called a "fake job" instead of sitting at a desk or working in a school, etc etc. I can fool myself into thinking that everyone has something they are called to, or that they simply love to do, and that they will eventually find this passion and pursue it and find happiness and satisfaction. But the truth rolls around, and it's that I don't know my purpose, it's that I really think I don't have a purpose, that I am a redundant human being. I think that any good qualities I possess are possessed by other people I know, often in much higher quantities than I have, and that the bad qualities far outweigh them anyway.

What it comes down to is that, rationally speaking, there isn't really any reason for me to be alive. But you say that and it sounds like suicidal thoughts, which automatically gives you the edge of 'crazy.'

Oh my oh my oh my. You know it's a bad situation when I fall into THAT pit of despair yet again!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Elpida Emeina

I set out in the desert and found no water
Lost my tears and my fears by the side of the road
Trampled on the remnants of my former visions
and nearly tripped and stumbled over specters of my past.
Time elapsed, and in the distance, a rumble
like a river, only I knew somehow that this could never be.
My brain, it seems, that last sad sorry pilgrim
had given up, was playing tricks on me.
I am and always will be something that tries honestly.
I hope to always be the one to tread too far.
But there are moments when you look and say quite honestly
There's nothing that remains to me,
No, nothing that remains to me.
I'm gone.

But do you, humble reader, spy my lie?
The title speaks in ancient tongue the answer to the riddle.
I was alone, and lost, and seemingly bereft of all -

but elpida emeina
but hope remained.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


When I hear about
and her little box
of horrors
all I really think
is Eve and her
forbidden fruit.

I think,
"This is what you get."
That old cat-killing urge.
Some things are meant
to stay hidden
and if you
consequences abound.

But over time I've found
the forgotten part.
We're pop-cult kids:
we zone in on the monsters,
the terrors unleashed,
or the temptation
and seduction.

We forget

about what comes after,
about the only one who chose to stay,
the one who would not give up
on humanity.

Hope said, I will stay,
because I think they need me.
They may not know they need me
but I'll stay here

Some wrongs may never
be made right
and some doors
once opened
won't close.
But the box is never empty,
not completely empty.
Always, always
there's Hope.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shades of Grey

I'm trying to figure out how I feel about "Torchwood: Children of Earth."

I'm still reeling from the finale, from the death of a major character, from the despicable (or vital?) choice that Capt. Jack made.

There's my gut reaction which thrives on emotion and latched on immediately to ideas of tone, character, and moral dilemmas (More on that later).

Then there's my critical brain, asking (unnecessary but lingering) questions about other missing members of the Whoniverse: Gwen talked about why the Doctor may have stayed away; a brief mention was made to Martha Jones being on her honeymoon and thus not being disturbed (I'm sorry, but 10% of the child population is being threatened by aliens and I think she'd show up!); but what about Sarah Jane, Luke and friends, who would have been majorly affected by the turn of events, being, you know, children? (Though, really, I guess they're more preteens/teens, so the hormone thing would keep them out of harm's way.)

There's also the writer in me, which reacts with a mixture of the gut reaction and the critical brain to defend against both sides. Why leave SJ&L etc. out? Because this is Capt. Jack Harkness's story. Because this story belongs to him and Ianto and Gwen; it's about their emotional and moral journeys, and extra characters would have added unnecessary distraction.

People are pissed off about Ianto's death, but Davies' defense of it is understandable. It's the same reason JK Rowling killed off Lupin and Tonks. To show that war is real; that it has casualties. If this were truly happening it would be highly unrealistic to assume that everyone would make it out okay in the end. It sucks. I hate it. I hate the suddenness of it, the futility of it. But as hard as it is, I understand it.

Probably the most unsettling part about watching this miniseries has been adapting to the shades of grey. Torchwood sprang from a show whose fictional universe is slightly unrealistic--and I don't mean because of the aliens. Now, before my fellow Doctor Who fans get up in arms and try to hand me over to the Daleks, let me explain. I'm not throwing that word "unrealistic" around in a negative sense, I just--well, I mean, look at it: the good versus evil scale is always tipped toward the good; there may be appallingly bleak circumstances, but we never have any doubt that the Doctor is going to make it okay in the end. The Doctor comes across as a superior moral being (merciful, a champion of diversity... even his anger is a righteous anger!), but if you look at his track record you'll see that this is most likely because he's rarely faced a moral dilemma of the staggering nature that Capt. Jack faced in "Children of Earth." If the finale of COE had been a Doctor Who episode, I imagine it would have went like this: "One child gets fried and the world's children are safe, or save your grandson and let millions of kids get taken by creatures who would turn them into a drug? Hmmm. Let's see... how about NEITHER! Because if the Doctor does this with the frequency signal and tweaks that with his sonic screwdriver and uses the TARDIS to transport that whosamawatsit into the heart of the 4-5-6's earthly abode, you won't NEED a child anymore, and everything will still be okay in the end!"

That's fine for the kind of show Doctor Who is supposed to be. That fits the tone and the characters and the universe as it's been set up from the beginning. The Sarah Jane Adventures also fall very much into this pattern, where the good guy is able to take the moral high road every time, saving the day while not sacrificing the values he or she subscribes to. It's sooo much fun to watch these kinds of shows, and you can learn a lot from them, but.... BUT... that's not the sort of show Torchwood is.

It's a bit confusing, because Torchwood started out similar in tone, though over the seasons it's grown much darker. It was billed as the "adult" spinoff of Doctor Who.... not adult in the XXX meaning of the word, but adult as in "grown-up." And as Peter Pan would tell you, a grown-up version of something - even if we're talking about the same Whoniverse - is a very different animal from a childlike view of the same world.

From the beginning of this miniseries it was apparent that whatever resemblance Torchwood's universe might have had to Doctor Who's was gone. The Prime Minister of England is no longer the feisty and fearless Harriet Jones, but a loathsome smug-faced politician who's only out to save his own skin. There are very few of the witty asides you might once have heard exchanged among characters. The atmosphere is one of grim foreboding; hope barely ever dares to show itself, and the few times it does it is overshadowed by the festering cloud of guilt, grief, and shame that have come about as a result of the actions that made hope even possible to begin with.

Let's talk about that choice. Honestly. Do you think you would have done anything different? When there are no options, when it's one life or millions of lives, which will you choose? Either way, you'll be haunted for the rest of your life. But if you save the millions, you'll be sparing even more, parents and grandparents who would have mourned the loss. Would saving your grandson have been the selfish choice, then? Or was it selfish to deny him any choice in the matter, to take away his right to life in a sacrifice that wasn't really yours to make? And does it bother us more because it's a child we're talking about. Surely, if any person would do, Jack would have volunteered in a heartbeat. Even if it meant a real and final death, not the Lazarus-death he's become accustomed to. I know he would have given up everything to save them all. But he couldn't. Is it because it was a child, or because it was a person, and we feel that no hero would be so willing to barter with a human life? Does this make Jack no better than people who owned slaves, who thought people could be treated like things? Does this make Jack no better than the leaders of state huddled around the conference table deciding which 10% most deserved to be taken?

This is why I think that "Torchwood: Children of Earth" is BRILLIANT. That's right, I've come to a conclusion. It's amazing and wonderful and compelling. I hate it and I love it. It is full of contradiction. It is full of meaningful, HARD questions: Was Frobisher a spineless coward to the end, or was he, as was said, a "good man"? Can a meek office assistant really help overturn corrupt politicians and save millions of lives? Did Gwen and Jack ever really know Ianto, despite having worked with him and loved him, each in their own way, over the years? Can you really say what was right and what was wrong? Can you live with having chosen the lesser of two evils?

Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. It wasn't perfect, but it was TRUE. and HARD. TERRIBLE, but BEAUTIFUL. BRUTAL. but it spoke so much to the REAL HUMAN CONDITION.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

WWDD: Standing Up To Injustice

Book 5 is probably the book in the series where we see Dumbledore the least. Near the end we find that this was intentional on his part; fearing that the connection between Harry and Voldemort could be used in a negative way, he purposefully distanced himself from Harry as a protective measure. And since we’re viewing events through the lens of Harry’s experience, we obviously don’t see very much of Dumbledore because of this.

Order of the Phoenix is possibly my favorite book in the series (I’m wavering right now… I need a good reread of all 7 before I can pick just one fave). You’ve got one of the scariest literary villains to ever grace the page (and no, I’m not talking about Voldemort. Hint: think pink), you’ve got issues like censorship and corruption in government, you’ve got these kids going through the emotional range of puberty, from teen angst (ALL CAPS ANYONE!?!?) to first love (one very “wet” smooch below the Nargle-infested mistletoe). Lots of great stuff, lots of stuff about which I’m sure Dumbledore would have had great wisdom to share, but we don’t get to see that.

I guess I’m most interested in what Dumbledore would do in the face of someone like Umbridge, someone who’s doing their utmost to take away civil liberties and to force a regime that promotes, among other things, media control, censorship, and prejudice.

And knowing Dumbledore like I feel we all do after reading 7 books, I know he’s opposed to these things and I feel like I should be able to write with some assurance that put in a situation where he was faced with injustices of this kind he would do something to stop it.

But if you look at Book 5, what do you see?

Umbridge enacts truly cruel and abusive punishments on Harry in detention.
Dumbledore does nothing to stop this.

Umbridge bans activities, social interaction, intellectual intercourse, and media consumption.
Dumbledore does nothing to stop this.

Umbridge fires a teacher for not meeting Ministry standards (granted, she was a crazy old bat, but still…)
Here we see Dumbledore take some action. While not in a position to restore her teaching post, he does very calmly but firmly insist that Trelawney can remain to live on Hogwarts grounds even though she will not teach. Also, Dumbledore asserts what little powers he has left at Hogwarts at this point by appointing Firenze the centaur to replace Trelawney in the post. Though I’m sure Dumbledore hired him for his skill at Divination, he must also have known that due to her ignorant prejudices, the appointment would seriously bother Umbridge. I see this as a subtle way of him standing up to her.

It isn’t until Chapter 27, though, when the “sneak” reveals Dumbledore’s Army and Fudge is set to have him arrested, that Dumbledore finally stands up. In fact, it’s impossible for me to read this scene without thinking Dumbledore’s pretty badass…

“You seem to be laboring under the delusion that I am going to—what is the phrase? ‘Come quietly.’ I am afraid I am not going to come quietly at all, Cornelius.”

Then he stuns them all with a flash of silver light, issues a few last words to McGonagall, and swoops off. By the end of the chapter I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the portrait of Phineas Nigellus: “You know, Minister, I disagree with Dumbledore on many counts…but you cannot deny he’s got style…”

Still, basically Dumbledore, when faced with Umbridge and the threat of the Ministry’s interference at Hogwarts, chose to do nothing until he was placed in a situation where he was forced to act.

So what is that supposed to say to us, exactly?

Well I guess we have to look at context. Dumbledore knew Fudge was looking for an excuse to get him out of the way, being that he was so convinced that Dumbledore was after his job and so afraid to believe that what Dumbledore and Harry were claiming was true. Dumbledore wanted to stay at Hogwarts, where he could ensure the safety of the students and keep a watchful (if distant) eye over Harry. If staying at Hogwarts meant jumping through the Ministry’s hoops, then I guess he decided to grin and bear it. Dumbledore chose to be cautious in the way he stood up to injustice. He considered his position and how he might continue to do the most good as opposed to recklessly diving into the fray.

Now… this contrasts very much with how Harry chose to deal with things. Harry stood up to Umbridge blatantly in classes, declaring before many witnesses that Voldemort was still around. He was outspoken in his contempt for her and her policies, and this cost him dearly. Not only did it leave those lovely stinging words on the back of his hand, but it also caused him and his friends to become Umbridge’s targets.

So which is the better course of action when facing this kind of threat: fly under the radar so that you can stay in a position where you can attempt to influence things for good in subtle ways, or stand up directly to the threat and face the consequences?

I don’t know. I think if Dumbledore had been in a different position, he may have acted more like Harry. But because so much hinged on him, and because he wanted to protect the students by maintaining a presence at Hogwarts for as long as possible, he was forced to take the other course of action.

I think this teaches us that there is more than one way to do the right thing. Sometimes you’re forced to move more slowly or quietly or indirectly than you might like. But it’s important to consider the final outcome and your role in bringing that about when you think about how to act and how to stand up to the people who are attempting to promote injustice in the world.

Friday, June 5, 2009

WWDD: Mistakes

I’ve been trying and trying to write a WWDD post, but it just wasn’t working because as much as I tried I wasn’t hitting on anything that actually meant something to me personally. I can talk about love and hope, I can (and probably will) talk about Dumbledore’s take on tyrants creating their own enemies (because there are so many modern day examples to back that up), but for this first WWDD blog post, at least, I wanted something I could relate to on more of a personal level.

Then someone made the joking comment this afternoon that WWDD should actually be “WWDDITFSB” aka “What Would Dumbledore Do In The First Six Books?” because Book 7 is where we find out many of Dumbledore’s flaws and (apparently) that means he's no longer as good a role model.

But I’m going to be honest with you… in books 1-5 I loved Dumbledore for his wisdom, wit, and all-out weirdness, but I could never relate to him as a human being. He seemed too, well, on a plane of his own, really. Even Jo Rowling has said of Dumbledore that his "wisdom has isolated him ... where is his equal, where is his confidante, where is his partner?” I mean, who else is that freaking brilliant and wise and loving and funny and kind? Who else is such a leader and yet so humble? He was like this super-human, and as much as I thought he was an awesome character and an important part of Harry’s life, it wasn’t until books 6 and 7, when I started seeing he had weaknesses and made mistakes, that Dumbledore became real to me.

I think that among the many, many lessons Dumbledore has to teach us, this is so very important: Yes, he made serious mistakes; one mistake resulted in the death of his sister, but there could have been even larger casualties: if Dumbledore had chosen to go along with Grindelwald, his “for the greater good” / “ends justify the means” way of thinking could have led to a detrimental outcome had he attained the sort of power they dreamed about. But here is where the role model part comes into play: he saw his mistakes and he learned from them, to the point that he even turned down the post of Minister of Magic because he felt he couldn’t be trusted with that much power.

So that’s what Dumbledore taught me: we all make mistakes, but it’s what you do after that that truly counts. Do you feel remorse and try to change, or do you continue on the downward spiral? It’s up to you.

Excuses, Excuses

I was sick. I was ill. I was tipsy. I was tired.

Was I wrong? Not entirely.

Do you care? Probably not.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Don't Judge Me, Please

It's a risk. It's a risk I'm going to make, typing this here. On the one hand, I'm fairly sure no one reads this blog AT ALL. Which is a wonderful thing, because I can write something and send it out into the void, and I feel like I'm putting it out there but at the same time I don't have to deal with judgment or even mere interpretation by someone other than myself. I have come to depend on that strange dichotomy. I'm depending on it now.

Because the truth of what I'm about to say would offend many people I know. There are so many people that I've met all as a result of this one thing, and it seems like a slap in the face to say it, and I don't know how true it is (although I'm two glasses of red wine into a bottle, so the truth is starting to simmer up toward the surface a bit).

Sometimes I wish Harry Potter had never existed.

Sometimes I wish Jo Rowling had never written it. Not that I don't want her life to have turned out as wonderfully as it has; in that sense, I wish she had had the same success but without the same books. Why?

The Harry Potter books are good. Addictive. Fun. Moving. Inspiring. But they're one series of books out of thousands of millions of stories in the world. I love the Lord of the Rings. I love I Capture the Castle. I have loved many books in my day to the point of obsession, but that is what I loved: the books. But... when I needed to distance myself from them, to pull back and have a normal life, I could. Not so with Harry Potter. With Harry, fandom is a community, and with community you have a sense of responsibility. Gone are the days of lurking. I have a name and a face out there in the community now. I feel like I have to participate and be involved, when sometimes it would just be healthy for me to take a four month Harry break before coming back to the discussion.

Another thing... the question of creativity. Fans have done some very creative things based entirely around this series of books, and that's something to celebrate. But in a way, if I were to try to do that sort of thing, it would feel stunted and unnatural to me. I am not slamming the wrock bands and craft people and fan artists and fan fic writers, but I feel false somehow when I try to write a song or a story based on someone else's characters and situations. It's like saying "Be creative--within these parameters." And that's not art to me. Sorry. I mean, it is art, because who am I to say what is and isn't art? But art seems to be about expanding or ignoring limits.

No, I'm wrong. I'm saying it wrong. I don't know...

I just feel like: before HP came along, I was creative and creating stories and worlds and people that were different than anything else I'd been reading. After HP, I became so invested in a fandom focuses on one world and one set of characters that it closed off all other worlds to me.

I'll be honest, there are some things about HP I think aren't the best. For example, when I first read Order of the Phoenix and got to the end and heard the words of the prophecy, I literally said, "So what?" What I should have said was, "Uh, DUH!" Of COURSE neither is going to live while the other survives. That's the classic good guy versus bad guy result. Voldemort isn't about to put up his arms and say, "I give up! I'm sorry." And Harry, likewise, isn't about to surrendur and say, "Okay, you win. Let evil reign." So the so-called massively important prophecy was a bit of a major let down.

The other thing I despise about HP is in Deathly Hallows when Ron and Hermione manage to get basilisk venom to destroy one of the horcruxes by mimicking Harry's parselmouth sounds to get the snake to open up and let them in. I'm sorry... WEAK. You spend so much time building up how rare and special this parselmouth thing is, to the point that we realize it's not very common and probably quite difficult unless you have the gift. Then suddenly you undermine the whole thing by having it be mimick-able just so you can tie up a loose end in a very unconvincing way. Seriously, you rocked it out with the rest of the series, which is massive and awe-inspiring, but that one little detail just totally irked me.

So yes, this is an "I hate Harry Potter" post. Which, let me be honest, is very rarely my true state of mind. I will probably be horrified reading this post even hours from now. Because HP has done so much in my life in terms of me meeting people and getting involved in stuff. But I get frustrated. I want a few HP free months to chill, live life, be myself. Maybe I'd actually start writing again, and my stuff, not something with the name Weasley flitting around the back of my brain.

You know what Harry Potter lacks, that I think other things like Lord of the Rings and Narnia have? "Echoes of eternity" was the phrase that came to mind. It has important themes illustrated in moving and creative ways, but there is no isolated moment where I can say "This is it. Sam's Star. Puddleglum's believing Narnia even if there never even was a Narnia." The closest we got was when Harry walked into the forest. And maybe when I reread that book, I'll feel it.

But right now I'm just so tired. Right now I just want out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Poem to the Void

This is for you, page,
and you, solemn square of glowing glass.
You are a window pane.
You are a scroll.
You are the moving images that define dreams.

I don't know what you are, but you have become
skin to me,
so I say it again:
this is for you.

No one else will read this.
Our little secret:
hidden in plain sight
accessible yet unnoticed
that's all.

I'm sorry, you deserve better
I cannot fill your blank spaces
and I cannot tame the glow
of the screen, cannot
keep the cursor from
out its sorry shambling dance.

But this moment,
this scrap of the nesting-doll-life
I lead (empty shell within
empty shell)--it's yours.
Do with it what you will.

I dance at the edges
but the void hates me too much
to ever dare
swallow me whole.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


This past weekend at LeakyCon I went to a talk by John Granger, an excellent scholar and author (if you haven't read his books, I highly recommend them), and while he was talking about Deathly Hallows he said something that really spoke to me. He was talking about what Dumbledore left Hermione ("Tales of Beedle the Bard"), and the specific task he had in mind for her, and he summed it up as follows: "Read a kid's book, interpret its meaning, save the world." Well, as you can imagine, that made me sit up and pay attention.

"Read a kid's book, interpret its meaning, save the world."

Isn't that what the HP Alliance is about? Reading Harry Potter (the "kid's book" part is arguable, I grant you). Interpreting its meanings. Using what we learn and discover to change our world for the better.

In fact, that's what this new initiative What Would Dumbledore Do? really boils down to. WWDD gives us the opportunity to not just read about Dumbledore, but to examine him in more detail and to pull out lessons and examples from his life that have taught us something important or that could in some way benefit our world.

So, whether you were at LeakyCon or whether you're just following us online, I hope you'll get excited about this project and this amazing opportunity we have. Seriously, just think about it: What would Dumbledore do? And as you ponder, share your ideas with the rest of us. Let's celebrate this amazing wizard and all the things he has to teach us.

We've read the books, now let's interpret their meaning. Better yet, let's save the world!

Monday, May 18, 2009


I have felt so small, so many times today.

There are many kinds of small. There's the small you feel when it's you in the middle of a field at night staring up at the starry expanse of universe above you and realizing just where exactly you fit into the grand scale of all that exists. That is a good kind of small. Terrifying, intense, but ultimately somewhat assuring.

The small I felt today was the ugly kind of the small, the mean little monster that attaches itself as your shadow and casts a gloom over your whole day.

I felt small when I went to try on dresses at the department store and their largest size was still too tight.

I felt small when people stared or downright pointed at my hair (I've recently dyed it pink/red/orange), and not in the "oh-isn't-that-different-but-not-unpleasant" way. In the way that someone might stare at someone who unknowingly has a noseblood... horrified fascination mingled with the desire to laugh because the person has no idea what they look like. But even that's not accurate, because you feel slightly sorry for the person with the nosebleed, or you at least let them know eventually so they'll stop it. These people just stared and pointed and looked at me like I was shifty or irresponsible or just altogether nasty.

I felt small because I was tired, and because I was in a strange place surrounded by too many movements, noises, sights. Too many people too close to me. My mind was a whirl.

I felt small because I felt like I could melt into the wall and no one would ever notice or care that I was gone.

I felt small because that tight dark feeling that haunted me so much of last year is back, and as strong now as it was then, and I hate the thought of zombie medication, but I don't know if I hate it more than this.

sharp as slice and not as nice and if you when you-but you-no. not what was ever going to happen. not in the very briefest while.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stone Bridge

I wrote a story based on a dream I had a while ago. It's not great writing; it's mostly impressionistic and melodramatic. But I am consistently moved by it, especially by the final line which resonated so strongly in my original dream. This is a story about the fact that life can be special if we choose to see it that way.

G.K. Chesterton, an author I love, was talking about allegories once and wrote about George MacDonald, another author I love love love, that contrary to the traditional allegory that takes ordinary life and dresses it up as a fairy story, "George MacDonald did really believe that people were princesses and goblins and good fairies, and he dressed them up as ordinary men and women. The fairy-tale was the inside of the ordinary story and not the outside." That is, I think, what this story eventually proves to be about.

Here it is, in all its unedited glory


In a village called the Old Town, at an inn called the Corner and Square, there is a scullery maid who gets glimpses of Something Else. For example, the inn’s namesake: the fabled cornerstone of Old Town, part of the church directly across the street from the green village square. History tells of a monk named Egfried who founded the colony that built the church; it goes on to speak of many a Christian festivity on the green, with the flowers of spring garlanded and the new life wreaths and the old gods cleverly disguised.

But the scullery maid, when she hears of this past, catches sightings of a different one. With the assurance one might sometimes feel in a dream, she sees that the church is really a castle and the village green the sight of an ancient and fearsome battle. She sees flashes of steel, not the flappings of prayer books in the wind. She sees blood spilt on the grass, darker than communion wine and hardly as sweet. She dares not tell anyone of the things she sees: all too many pine for witches and heretics to burn.

Sometimes it’s not so much a glimpse as an echo. She hears names in strange tongues but intuits easily their meanings: the market road is really Bright Path, the mill is Stronghold, the bog at the southward fringes of the village translates roughly in her mind as Cradle of the Dead. She hears these names and realizes—with some shock, surely, but really more of an acceptance, an understanding—that she knows them already. That she’s heard them before. That somehow these things she sees are True and remarkably Real.

She has lived her whole life knowing things no one else around her has even imagined. It is as though she has the most life-changing of secrets, a secret so great it actually succeeds in protecting itself with the disbelief and doubt it casts in men’s

This is a hard thing, the keeping of secrets. It can be wearisome. It is not for the weak. And sometimes even the strongest find themselves failing. They long to tell it. It yearns to be shared.

That is why it meant so much to the young scullery maid the night the stranger rode into town.

She was dumping a bucket of kitchen scraps to the pigs when she heard the clatter of hooves in the distance. She dropped the bucket and ran toward the sound, dashing around the corner leading toward Bright Path. Here she first saw him, tall and proud, the towering figure of a man on horseback sending the shadows of a giant sprawling before him on the cobblestones. She shivered in anticipation.

“Lass, could you tell me the name of yonder bridge?” the man asked, staring up at the lit crossing in an odd way, as if it reminded him of something else entirely.

“Simriel,” she wanted to tell him. “‘Journey’s hope,’” for that is what it had always been to her. Instead, she lowered her head and, in a defeated voice, said, “Stone, sir. They call it Stone Bridge.”

The flicker of recognition left his eyes and he sighed. “Thank you, girl. And good evening to you. I must be moving on.”

As he turned to leave she caught sight of a glint of metal at his waist. A sword? Her suspicions were confirmed upon his final turning, when she saw the leather scabbard poking out of his cloak.

“Sir!” she cried, excited and suddenly out of breath. For quite abruptly she saw them, the glimpses surrounding him, mysterious and not fully formed, but enough to tell her that he was not what he seemed. “Sir, if you’ll excuse me asking, why is it you carry such a noble sword, and the air of a man not from these parts?”

He turned and smiled; she could not tell if he was amused by her questions or impressed by her observations—or both.

“Many call me Veridel, but I am sure you haven’t heard of me. I come from far away, ‘tis true. But what of you, my lady? You say I carry a strange air about me, but you have that same air.”

He paused and gazed at her, his expression inscrutable. What must he see? A reckless and feverish excitement, that most unforgivable thing—hope. She had let her guard down. She had laid it all out on the line. The course of her life might well hinge on his answer.

“I think,” he said finally, “In fact, I am certain of it: we both know the name of that bridge was never really Stone.”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Last Night

So I was sitting on my bed and typing in a Word document when there came a soft tap at the door. The cat, being more like a dog than a cat in its nature, bolted to the door to catch a glimpse of the unexpected intruder. Could he have barked, I'm sure he would have, but a subtle miaow sufficed. I slid feet to floor and paced the few feet across my studio apartment to the glass-paned door, but to my surprise, no one was there. I felt sure the tap had been real; the cat's response, above all, was enough to assure me of this. But there was no one on the outside patio, not a figure illuminated by the street lamp beyond, and with the quickness with which I'd been able to respond I felt sure any knocker would have at least still been in my yard upon my arrival at the door. To not even see a distant flickering of shadow was, then, quite unsettling.

Slightly puzzled and troubled, I left the door and returned to my typing. The cat remained at the door, gazing out, but I thought little of this for he is a cat who thinks he is an outdoor cat and often sits pining by windows. However, there may have been something to his watch, for barely a full minute had passed before I heard the tapping again, This time I did not rise from my work. I simply froze, and listened. And sure enough, I heard the quick, light tread of feet on concrete as someone--someone quite small from the sounds of it--slipped away into the night. The cat had not hissed, but his eyes were wild and his hair was raised as though in great alarm.

I debated what I could do. I could call and report a disturbance to the police. I would be going to bed sometime soon, after all, and it would not do to have some strange prankster tapping at my door all night. The light tread led me to believe this was a child, and perhaps he would be missed from home, so reporting the incident might be doing a favor to more than just myself. I could, of course, just ignore it and hope the perpetrator would grown bored and stop. This was the option I went for, and continued typing for the course of the next thirty minutes, hearing the soft knock at least seven times more in that span. But while I found I could peacefully ignore the minor tapping, the cat was having an altogether different reaction. With each tapping he grew more and more irritated and alarmed, and by the time the most recent knock had sounded on the door he was literally spitting, backing away from the door but not leaving it, as though both horrified and hypnotized.

It was this reaction that finally led me to take action. Scooping the cat up, I took him and shut him in the bathroom, away from the door. Then I slipped on my sandals and opened the door. It was a warm night, and a slight breeze stirred the thick air, though not enough to keep away the sweat. I could see no shadow on the lawn. I could hear no one breathing. Yet I knew, by common sense at least, that the knocker was out here somewhere, very near. So I rested a hand on one hip, and trying to sound authoritative, I said, "I know you can hear me, and I appreciate a good joke as much as the next person, but this has got to stop. If you keep it up, I will call the police."

There was nothing. Not a sound, except in the background I thought I could hear the sound of my cat from inside the apartment, miaowing and banging against the door in an effort to be let free.

"So we're going to try this again," I continued. "I'm going to go inside, and you're going to go home. We're both going to get a good night's sleep and laugh our heads off about this in the morning."

Again, the only answer I received was the night air, the long unmoving shadows on the lawn.

I turned back to the door and pressed down on the handle, which wouldn't give. I tried it again. I jiggled the handle. I peered closer at the door. It was quite blatantly locked; even the deadbolt was turned, which of course could only have happened from the inside.

It was about this time that something close to fear pricked around the edges of my body. All the tell-tale signs were there: an increase in heart rate, a cold sweat that had nothing at all to do with the weather. I had been standing not even two feet from the door, and yet someone had passed me and locked me out of my own apartment. A someone I had not heard or seen, nor even felt in the way one can usually sense another person is near: like when you're in the bathroom and you know the stall is occupied even though the person inside is silent and you haven't checked for feet under the door. All of my senses had failed me, including, it would seem, my common sense. I was now trapped outside my own apartment, without my phone, without any keys. Someone was inside there with all my stuff, and I was stuck outside. Someone was in there with my cat...

And that was when I realized that the sounds of frantic miaowing and pawing at the door had stopped. Other than my pitiful jiggling of the handle, the night was utterly silent.

"If you've done anything to my cat, I swear I'll kill you!"

I yelled it against the glass, but the words were beyond inadequate. I couldn't see anyone moving around inside. No one was looting the place. All the stuff within my range of vision remained untouched.

Why would someone break into an apartment if they had no use for the things inside it?

Again, options screamed at my mind... run to the neighbors. My apartment is in the basement of a house, but the people upstairs were on vacation. The nearest neighbors were at the end of a long gravel driveway off to the left of the house. I could make it there within minutes; we could call the police and sort this whole thing out that way. But that seemed too simple. It would be leaving the opportunity for the person to make an escape. I was afraid at this point, yes, but I was also quite angry; after failing to catch a glimpse of this person several times now, my pride would not let me leave without at least once seeing a face.

But how? The neighbors up above kept the spare key, and as I mentioned before, they were gone. The lock and bolt situation at the door made it a pretty impregnable entrance. I could break the glass on one of the panes and try unlocking it that way. Or I could simply break a window. But suddenly this mysterious person no longer seemed like a harmless child to me, and the thought of scattering shards of broken glass, something that could potentially be used as a weapon against me, didn't seem like a good idea. If only there was a way to hit it, but not shatter it...

And suddenly I knew. I knew what the stranger wanted.

I reached out a trembling hand and tapped, one two three, on the door.

Inside the apartment, a moment of absolute stillness. Then I heard that sound again of feet, this time on kitchen tile, though I could see absolutely no one and no thing in the entirety of the kitchen. My heart beating irregularly in my chest, speeding up and then nearly freezing in my panic, I knocked again. A third time. Sometimes I swear the person, or the thing, was near, investigating my presence. At other times I felt distinctly ignored. And after the seventh knock, the door swung open.

"Is that all you wanted?" I asked timidly, hoping not to be misunderstood. The thing I had mistaken for a nighttime breeze wavered translucently in the entranceway. I took that to be a yes. "I'll try to remember. To open the door to those who knock." My throat was tight as I said this. I could not fully see the thing, but now I could sense it. Inches from me, and it was not a pleasant sensation. Strong, and big. Like the kind of big that can crush you. I took a step back to let it pass.

I guess my words were satisfactory, because in a moment the nighttime noises returned, along with the frustrated noises of my cat. I slipped over the threshold and into my apartment, and found I could not breath again until the bolt was safely fastened and my cat was clutched tightly in my arms. He squirmed to be free almost instantly, but I held him tight. I looked in the bathroom, the closet, under the bed, moving in and out of every corner, examining the interior of every cupboard, but no traces of the invader remained. It was then I started really breathing, a bit too much, and too fast in my hyperventilating state, but breathing nonetheless.

In the morning, I looked all around for signs that it had been more than a dream, but I never found a thing. Not even fingerprints on the glass of the door.