Monday, December 5, 2011

Ginger-Who?

One thing I love about being a teen librarian is other teen librarians. They have so many awesome ideas, and are more than happy to share. One such way we do this is through an email listserv set up through the ALA where people post ideas or questions and others respond.

A couple weeks back, one librarian named Meredith posted about an event she's doing where they've decided to make gingerbread men and decorate them like characters from popular teen books. Another librarian named Joella adapted it into a display. I liked both ideas so much that I copied Joella, adding and changing some characters.

The idea is this: look at the display and try to guess which gingerbread person matches which character. Fill out a form with your guesses, and the winner gets a free gingerbread house kit.

Here's the display...



Can you guess them? Here are some close-ups...



(Katniss - The Hunger Games, Bilbo - The Hobbit, Cassia - Matched, Taylor - Beauty Queens)



(Top row: Cammie - Gallagher Girls, Harry Potter - duh, Stanley - Holes, Katsa - Graceling. 2nd row: Arnold - Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Karou - Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Brian - Hatchet, Jem - Clockwork Angel)




(Top row: Edward - Twilight, Jane - Shark Girl, Cassel - White Cat, Percy - Lightning Thief. 2nd row: Jace - Mortal Instruments, Mia - Princess Diaries, Will - Ranger's Apprentice, Lola - Lola and the Boy Next Door)

So far it's been really fun hearing people discuss while they fill out their sheets. Some favorite comments...

"They totally drew Jace's iratze wrong."

"Why doesn't that girl with the surfboard have an arm?" *peers down at list of titles* "Oh."

Girl: OMG! That's totally Cassel from "White Cat"! See? He's wearing gloves!!!! *scurries to fill out sheet*
Friend: Um, yeah. You know how I knew? The white cat...

"So if only some of them are wearing clothes, does that mean the rest of them are naked?"

I love teenagers. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Manifesto

If the path leading down through the woods in your backyard ever takes you somewhere unexpected, promise me you'll follow it.

The same with the doors opening into your house, or a closet, or an elevator. If they lead you somewhere that they didn't before, don't question it: just go.

If the highway numbers mysteriously disappear, or the signs switch to a language your online translator won't recognize, don't panic and don't put on the brakes. Go along for the ride.

It's the roads we take and the doors we open and the discoveries we make that should define our lives. Don't wear your world thin treading repeatedly down the same carefully-hedged-in pathways.

I'd rather regret having lived too large (a ridiculous regret, I assure you) than to be haunted by the dull pang of having lived too small, that swirling shroud of the ghosts of a million what-ifs.

Chance, opportunity, and eyes willing to look beyond the "merely probable," the "certainly possible" and into something more. These are the things you should grasp at and aspire to. Let your heart and your hopes grow as wide as the horizon.

I would like to truly see this world in what little time I'm in it.

Which means I will be watching for that odd turn in the path, for that strange light coming through the cracks in the doors, for the unsettling and unfamiliar to arrive at my doorstep.

And if - no, when - it comes, I will be ready.

I am ready. Are you?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Man In The Moon

There's a man in the moon and he can't get out,
no matter how much he kicks and shouts.
But he dreams of a day when he'll roam free
and live his own life like you and me.

How long's he been there? Ages by now.
How did he get there? Magic somehow.
Can't he escape when the moon goes black?
He tries, but the night always grabs him back.

So if you feel trapped, like your world is small,
consider: at least you're not stuck in a ball.
Go out and live as only YOU can.
Think of the moon and remember the man.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How I Feel Right Now

I want to scream for as loud and long as I can. A wordless scream, the kind that rips you in half. I want the whole night to collapse with the force of it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Living, the Dead, the Undead

I found something I wrote about a year ago, shortly after the death of Esther Earl. I can't really explain why, but her death really hit me hard. In those weeks afterward, I was thinking about a lot of deep, heavy stuff: time, death, wisdom, despair... Anyway, this post is a bit emo (like most of this blog), but it ends on a decent note.

In my computer, the file was simply called "Esther."

--

I think the reason vampires aren’t scary to me is because despite all this nonsense about them being “undead,” they’re alive.

I don’t measure life by a pulse. I measure life in terms of… what, exactly? It’s hard to word it right. “Consciousness” was what I was going to say, but that’s not right. Life is being aware, awake. Having an identity. If our bodies are computers, being alive isn’t a matter of the power feed keeping the computer’s shell running. It’s the inner actions of the computer, the memory and data connections that keep the information processing. It’s the stuff on the hard drive. Even if the computer’s turned off, that stuff is still there, still inherently its own. It has an identity, a purpose, a unique quality of being itself.

That’s why, to me, zombies are scary. Not because they’re going to kill us all and rip off our flesh, etc. etc. But because they’re alive physically (or “undead” if you want to quibble), but they’re gone. Wiped clean. Whatever made them unique and special and inherently themselves is no longer there. They’re dead. They walk around like the living, but they’re gone.

That’s what I’m afraid of. That’s my biggest fear. Being gone. Not just me, though. That everyone I love and everything I’ve held dear, that everything from the smallest moments to the hugest lump sum of all our human experiences, won’t live on. That it’ll be lost. Time is the hugest enemy in this regard, because it erodes and erases and after a while it’s as if things that were once monumental and vast in their significance are mere grains of sand. Ozymandius, yeah, yeah, but more than that…

Death is a villain too. Death and Time, co-conspirators. One takes us away and the other slowly wipes our whole existence off the planet.

How, then, can there be any meaning? Why is anything that happens to me worth anything? Why do people matter so much to me, even people I’ve barely met? Why is the death of a girl from Quincy, Massachusetts who I’ve spoken to only a few times so hard to bear? Why is the loss so great?

Why do people tell stories? Those don’t matter either. As I wrote once in a poem about music, “I think we play to stave off the silence in our souls.” If, as Solomon so famously declared, “everything is vanity,” meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless, without purpose, without hope or value, then what else are we to do but distract and delude ourselves until Death and Time come and steal us away and render everything we once had or did or stood for as nothing but blank, empty, unimportant, void?

We’re very stupid animals, though, human beings. They tell us we can’t. The very Universe has set itself and its laws up so that there is ultimately and without doubt no chance whatsoever.

But we try anyway.

To hope.
To remember.
To stand for something.

To be truly wise is to live in a state of perpetual despair, because true wisdom is forced to acknowledge that everything is temporary and all things fail.

I’m going to be a fool. I’m going to walk into a hurricane with nothing but an umbrella and the sincere belief that I will make it to the other side.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

To The Boy On The Ugly Brown Chair

I want you to kiss me.

I want you to kiss me, but you’re just sitting there in that stupid brown chair, the ugly one with the orange cushion that’s supposed to hide the stains but only makes them more noticeable. You’re sitting there on the chair, and I’m here on the couch, and there’s really only the space of a few feet between us, and it doesn’t have to be that way. In seconds there could be no space between us at all, and your face could be right next to mine, and you could kiss me.

But we sit.

Goddamn it all, we sit.

I didn’t understand until just now how you can be hungry with something other than your stomach. That it’s not just your mouth that has the cravings, or your throat that feels the thirst. This is in my bones, and in my organs, in my skin - every layer, every part. I didn’t know you could feel hunger with your body like this, and my mind is nearly numb with the fight for self control.

Your hair is doing this thing where it’s somehow springier than usual, like it has a life of its own. It’s begging for someone to comb their fingers through it. My fingers, my hungry hands! It looks so soft and dark. Your eyes are doing this thing where they crinkle at the corners, and you’re smiling this mischievous smile, and my eyes, my thirsty eyes, drink you in, and I can’t help it. I lean forward just a little, shrink the space between us by a fraction.

You say something wonderful, and I laugh.

Kiss me, you idiot. I don’t say it out loud, but it’s there, in the way I’m sitting, in the way I’m looking at you, in the way I’m nodding and smiling. Kiss me, you fool.

But that stupid brown chair. That awful cushion. This wretched air. There’s too much between us, and you’re standing like you’re going to say goodnight, and I hate the night, and I hate most of all the leaving. I want to punch something, but instead I pinch my thigh hard enough to leave a bruise. I want to scream, but I settle for a sarcastic comment as I lean in for a goodbye hug.

This is a good thing, at least. The hug. The space between us closes, your arms lace around me, hands resting lightly, briefly on my back. It feels good. Could I freeze this moment indefinitely? Your hands, that slight touch - the wobbly, tingly, unsettlingly-wonderful glow I feel all seems to stem from there. Or maybe it’s your chin on my shoulder, the way your rumpled shirt smells so much like you. Hungry. Aren’t you hungry the same way I am?

But we part, and you leave. The door shuts. I curse aloud.

I’m going to kick that ugly chair until it’s splinters and stuffing. I’m going to bite these unkissed lips until they bleed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shells and Stars

What's the first thing you remember? I mean, really remember? It's hard to pinpoint, right?

Most early memories are more like photographs of memory. It's something somebody told you once or you may have seen in an old picture that you're sure must have happened, but it's all a bit foggy or dreamlike. I remember riding a miniature train on the top of a skyscraper in Seoul, Korea with my cousin Debbie when I was two, but I don't really. I just remember it because I've heard the story told often enough. I remember how obsessed I was with my Tigger stuffed animal, but again - just hearsay, just something I've picked up from looking at handfuls of photographs with that little plush toy constantly at my side.

What I think of as my "first memory" is different from those. It's different in a way that has me convinced that it is real. Once you hear it, you may choose to believe or disbelieve as you will, but I think this is as close as I will ever get to my first actual memory.

First I will tell you what I don't remember. We were at a shore of some kind, but I don't remember if it was a lake or an ocean. Apparently back then we did visit a cabin by a lake with my Oma. There are pictures of us kids in a boat fishing. It could have been there. But I suspect it might be an ocean, because of something you'll see in a moment. I don't remember who was there, though I'm sure my parents were, and my older brother Zach must have been. I had found a seashell. I think it was a seashell, maybe a pebble. I'm not sure. I wanted to bring it home with me, to keep it. It was beautiful. I remember being in awe of how beautiful it was and wanting to keep it, to have it. One of my parents - again, I don't remember who - told me I had to leave it. I don't remember exact words, but I remember there was the sentiment that I should leave it because it wasn't important, that in a little while I wouldn't even remember it anymore. And it's true. Even now as I write this I have no idea what it looked like. I can't even recall exactly what it was.

This is what I remember: I left the shell, or pebble, or whatever it was, but I said over and over to myself, "I will remember. I will remember it. It is beautiful and wonderful and I want it so much, and so no matter what I will remember it. I will remember it." And decades later that's all that remains: not the memory itself, but the want, the desperate hope to somehow preserve this thing I loved. In trying so hard to remember, I lost it. Like grasping fistfuls of sand, only to have it spill out through the cracks of your fingers.

Is this the human condition? The desperate struggle to remember and be remembered, the idea that we can somehow be preserved, that all the things that were precious to us, the beautiful and important things in this world, will somehow last ? The attempt to make an eternal impact with brief and temporary lives?

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the death of a girl named Esther Earl. She would have been seventeen had she lived to see today. Those who knew her and many who, like me, only really knew of her, wear wristbands that say "This star won't go out," a phrase based upon her name's meaning, "star." The idea is that as long as we are alive, the memory of her life and all the things that were important to her will live on.

All this talk of stars reminds me of another star. In Tolkien's Return of the King, the final book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, hobbits Sam and Frodo find themselves following the untrustworthy guide Smeagol into the bowels of Mordor, the land of gloom and despair that is home to the only means of possibly saving their entire world. It's constantly dark. They're weary, everything seems hopeless. It's a huge gamble they're taking, and they're almost guaranteed to fail. And if they do, everything and everyone they've ever loved will be lost to this terrible force of darkness, pain and destruction. Frodo has fallen asleep and Smeagol is off somewhere else, leaving Sam as the only one awake to keep watch. The land is full of sly creaking and cracking noises. All is black. Then suddenly - a break in the clouds! And this is where my words won't do... I have to quote for the full effect: "There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."

I like to think our lives are shells, but that they could be stars. They're these things we grasp at and love so very fiercely and try to wring as much meaning out of as we can, but in the end we have to leave them behind. But if we're lucky, Esther's wristbands aren't a lie. If we're lucky, Sam's star isn't a lie. If we're lucky, the lives we lead mean something, something huge and untouchable, something deep, something eternal. At the very least they're light in the darkness, hope for someone somewhere, a reminder, a comfort. By the time that light reaches someone else, the star it came from may very well be dead - for yes, even stars fade. But what they inspire lives on.

I don't know what I'll remember or how I will be remembered, but I grasp at shells and hope for stars and life flickers in between.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Secret Obsession for the Last Few Months

If you're familiar with wizard rock, you know that there are a ton of songs that deal with "canon" events in the book: Songs written from the point of view of characters in the Harry Potter books that deal with actual events in the books. There are plenty non-canon songs as well, where musicians take characters, settings and events and spin them off into something of their own making. But starting probably last year... the year before? I'm losing track of when exactly it would be. A little while ago, anyway, I got it into my head that it would be really cool to try to make a playlist of all the canon-based wizard rock songs in chronological order to tell the entire story of the 7-book series.

It took months of tinkering. I did a test run of my playlist on the ten-hour drive down to LeakyCon, and it took the entire trip. (In fact, as I neared Orlando I was only halfway through book 7 so I purposefully got in the slow lane so I could finish before I arrived!)

I didn't want to post about this before because back when I'd originally had the idea I had told my friend Hope that I would send her a copy once I came up with it. I just mailed it to her a few days ago, and she called me this morning when it arrived, so now I feel free to share with you my Hogwarts Wrock Mix.



There are some obvious limitations. Despite having 328 songs by 65 different wizard rock artists, that's only the tip of the iceberg. It's only the bands that I've been exposed to in my time in the fandom. There are plenty of fitting songs from awesome artists that I'm sure I left out. I also struggled with making them actual "mixes" that don't just feature one band too heavily (Harry and the Potters, for example, could have dominated many of the CDs, especially Book 6, but I purposefully substituted songs from other artists for some of their better known ones to try to mix it up a bit.) and to not have twelve different songs about the same thing (for example, Luna Lovegood is awesome but she would have required her own CD if I was going to include every song written about her).

Anyway, enough talk. All that was to say that if you're reading my track lists below and think, "Whoa! She left something super obvious out!" please comment and let me know. I always love to hear about new wrock artists or songs I may have missed somehow.

Okay, first things first: I made this Hogwarts case... which is pretty flimsy actually because it's really thin cardboard. But whatever. It won't withstand the test of time, but at least it looks cool for now:



And here are the CDs:

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE



1- Vernon Dursley - Harry and the Potteres
2- Knickerbocker Glory - Hawthorn and Holly
3- Under the Stairs - Mopey Merope
4- I'm A Wizard - Harry and the Potters
5- Hey! Mr Ollivander - Riddletm
6- Platform 9 3/4 - Harry and the Potters
7- My Dad Is Rich - Draco and the Malfoys
8- Welcome to Hogwarts - Tonks and the Aurors
9- Intro - Hawthorn and Holly
10- The Enchanted Ceiling - Harry and the Potters
11- The Sorting Hat - Riddletm
12- Fang (Keeps Peeing In My Lake) - The Giant Squidstravaganza
13- Quidditch - Salsa Commodity
14- Wizard Chess - Harry and the Potters
15- Erised - Snidget
16- Hagrid Is My Name - Lily and James
17- Norbert Will Eat You! - The Mudbloods
18- Problem Solving Skillz - Harry and the Potters
19- Fluffy - Harry and the Potters
20- Riddle of the Potions - The Cruciatus Curse
21- There's A Face on the Back of My Head - The Blibbering Humdingers
22- The Stone - Harry and the Potters

HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS



1- Dobby, Bang Your Head - The Blibbering Humdingers
2- Leaving in a Blue Ford Anglia - Muggle Mike
3- Rubber Ducks - Riddletm
4- The Weasleys - The Remus Lupins
5- Your Family Is Poor - Draco and the Malfoys
6- Your Flying Car - The Whomping Willows
7- Back to School - Harry and the Potters
8- Cornish Pixies - The Blibbering Humdingers
9- A Mandrake's Lament - The Butterbeer Experience
10- Lonely Myrtle - The Moaning Myrtles
11- Potions Yesterday - Draco and the Malfoys
12- Matchbox - Justin Finch Fletchley and the Sugar Quills
13- The Art of Parseltongue - Hawthorn and Holly
14- Ode to Harry - Switchblade Kittens
15- Don't Throw That Book At Me - The Moaning Myrtles
16- Follow the Spiders - Harry and the Potters
17- And Then I Died - The Moaning Myrtles
18- Save Ginny Weasley - Harry and the Potters
19- Dobby - Draco and the Malfoys

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN



1- Knightbus - Shrieking Shack Disco Gang
2- 2 Weeks to Myself - Harry and the Potters
3- Glorious Day - Diagon Alley
4- Trevor the Toad - Roonil Wazlib
5- The Foil (Malfoy) - Harry and the Potters
6- Ode to Broom - The Mudbloods
7- The Firebolt - Harry and the Potters
8- Mischief Managed - Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls
9- Honeydukes - Justin Finch Fletchley and the Sugar Quills
10- Fizzing Whizbees Baby - Hawthorn and Holly
11- Disembodied Head - Draco and the Malfoys
12- Expecto Patronum - Remus and the Lupins
13- I Don't Need Divination - Riddletm
14- Oliver Wood - Witherwings
15- Hippogriffs Deserve to Die - Draco and the Malfoys
16- Teenage Werewolf - The Remus Lupins
17- Peter Pettigrew (That Rat) - Catchlove
18- Young Sirius Black's Flying Motorbike - The Remus Lupins
19- Concerning the Dementors on the Shore of the Black Lake - The Mudbloods
20- Time Turner - Ministry of Magic
21- Expecto Patronum - The Remus Lupins
22- The Godfather - Harry and the Potters
23- Freedom Is Only A Hippogriff Away - The Mudbloods

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE



1- Krum! - Justin Finch Fletchley and the Sugar Quills
2- Dark Mark in the Sky - The Blibbering Humdingers
3- (I, I, I Wanna Go To) Durmstrang - Draco and the Malfoys
4- Veela Serenada - Ministry of Magic
5- The Fourth Triwizard Champion - Harry and the Potters
6- I Wanna Be Harry Potter - Lily and James
7- Potter Stinks! - Draco and the Malfoys
8- The Wrath of Hermione - Harry and the Potters
9- Prefects Are Hot - The Moaning Myrtles
10- The Day the Skrewt Blast-ended Me - The Magizoologists
11- The Making of a Puking Pastille - Gred and Forge
12- Spew - Harry and the Potters
13- Goyle's Pants - Draco and the Malfoys
14- Cho Chang - The Mudbloods
15- On Behalf of Neville - The Whomping Willows
16- The Patil Twins - Witherwings
17- Lumos Flies - ALL CAPS
18- High Profile - Bella and Le Strangers
19- It's Dragons! It's Mermaids! It's a Maze! - The Mudbloods
20- The Villainous Tale of Flesh Blood and Bone - Hawthorn and Holly
21- Give it Up - Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls*
22- Cornelius Fudge is an Ass - Harry and the Potters
23- Remember Cedric Diggory - The Remus Lupins
24- These Days Are Dark - Harry and the Potters

* Not canon... but I couldn't resist!

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX



Disc One

1- The Year Harry Went Emo - Peeved
2- Really, Harry? - Gred and Forge
3- Aurors for the Win - Tonks and the Aurors
4- Grimmauld Place - Kingsley and the Shacklebolts
5- U Down W/ootp? - Dumbledore
6- Don't Touch That! - MC Kreacher
7- Black Family Anthem - The Parselmouths
8- The Ministry of Magic - Ministry of Magic
9- Luna - Peeved
10- I Believe in Nargles - The Whomping Willows
11- Stick it to Dolores- Harry and the Potters
12- Umbridge is Dumbridge - Justin Finch Fletchley and the Sugar Quills
13- I Must Not Tell Lies - Muggle Relations
14- Dumbledore's Army - Harry and the Potters
15- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls
16- Bubble Gum Wrappers - The House of Black
17- The Longbottom Legacy - Ministry of Magic

Disc Two

1- Occlumency Lessons - The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office
2- Breakout - Bella and Le Strangers
3- The Human Hosepipe - Harry and the Potters
4- Save the Quibbler - Gred and Forge
5- Marietta's a Sneak - Hawthorn and Holly
6- Worst Memory - Lauren Fairweather
7- Umbridge - Gred and Forge
8- O.W.L.'s - The Nifflers
9- Headed to the Ministry- Catchlove
10- On Thestral, We Ride - The Hermione Crookshanks Experience
11- Dreams- The Butterbeer Experience
12- You're So Vain - Mary Hansen
13- Crucio! - Bella and Le Strangers
14- Dumbledore's Army - The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office
15- The Godfather II - Harry and the Potters
16- The Weapon - Harry and the Potters

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE



Disc One

1- Just a Boy (That Hates Summer) - The Mudbloods
2- Narcissa Unleashed - Nagini
3- Mother, Stop Being Ridiculous - Draco and the Malfoys
4- The Burrow - The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office (feat. Riddletm)
5- I Heart Weasleys - Ministry of Magic
6- Knockturn Alley - Draco and the Malfoys
7- Wizard Weezes' Radio Hour - The Mudbloods
8- We're the Best - Gred and Forge
9- Slug Club - Harry and the Potters
10- In Which I Kick Harry Potter in the Face - Draco and the Malfoys
11- In Which Tonks Loses Her Cool - Tonks and the Aurors
12- This Book Is So Awesome - Harry and the Potters
13- Merope's Letter - Nagini
14- Merope's Song - The Butterbeer Experience
15- The Tale of Tom Riddle - Witherwings
16- Quidditch Witch - Swish and Flick
17- Ginny Is A Punk Rocker - The Whomping Willows
18- Hogwarts Tonsil Hockey - Harry and the Potters
19- Wish You'd Be My Witch - The Mudbloods
20- Hermione's Birds and Boys - Harry and the Potters
21- The Ballad of Mr Percy Weasley - Peeved
22- (Not Gonna Put On) The Monkey Suit - Harry and the Potters
23- Romilda - The Blibbering Humdingers

Disc Two

1- Werewolf Love - Tonks and the Aurors
2- Lupin's Tale (Where Are We Going) - Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls
3- Felix Felicis - Harry and the Potters
4- Eulogy for an Acromantula - The Mudbloods
5- A Tear for Aragog - Order of Merlin
6- Has Anybody Seen My Goyle? - The Blibbering Humdingers
7- In Which Draco Malfoy Cries Like a Baby - Harry and the Potters
8- Emo Guy - The Moaning Myrtles
9- Sectumsempra! - Split Seven Ways
10- Save Ginny Weasley from Dean Thomas - Harry and the Potters
11- Worth Fighting For - The Butterbeer Experience
12- The Cave - Harry and the Potters
13- Zombies - The Mudbloods
14- Book 6 Made Me Cry - Danny Dementor
15- I Couldn't Kill Albus Dumbledore - Draco and the Malfoys
16- Lightning Struck Tower - Riddletm
17- The Lightning Struck Tower - Ministry of Magic
18- Hunt You Down - Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls
19- Oh Dumbledore - The Parselmouths
20- Snape Vs. Snape - Ministry of Magic*
21- Dumbledore - Harry and the Potters
22- Signed R.A.B. - Eyes Like Mine
23- Phoenix Song - Harry and the Potters

*Not exactly canon, but it captures so well what everyone was wondering about Snape at the end of this book.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS



Disc One

1- I. - Draco and the Malfoys
2- Dudley - Seven Potters
3- Seven Potters - The Remus Lupins
4- Expelliarmus - Justin Finch Fletchley and the Sugar Quills
5- My Precious - MC Kreacher
6- Lupin - Riddletm
7- Imperious Regrets - The Mudbloods
8- The Eye on the Door - Witherwings
9- The Hallows - Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls
10- Goodbye Privet Drive - Ministry of Magic
11- Hunting Horcruxes - Shrieking Shack Disco Gang
12- Hermione the Horcrux Hunter - Gred and Forge (feat. Seen and Unforeseen)
13- Potterwatch - The Basilisk in Your Pasta
14- Don't Leave - Ministry of Magic
15- The Cold, Wild Yonder - Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls
16- The Last Enemy Defeated Is Death - Ministry of Magic
17- Gave a Snitch to Me - The Blibbering Humdingres
18- Horcruxes - Harry and the Potters
19- Luna's Paintings - The Parselmouths
20- The Peverell Story - The Butterbeer Experience

Disc Two

1- Queen of Mean - The Buttermellows
2- Dobby's Last Word - Lily and James
3- Dobby - Seen and Unforeseen
4- This Town - Ministry of Magic
5- Headed to Hogwarts - Catchlove
6- The Battle of Hogwarts - Kingsley and the Shacklebolts
7- Battle Song for a House Elf - Romilda Vane and the Chocolate Cauldrons
8- Ron, Stop - Alohomora
9- Accio Love - Ministry of Magic
10- The Diadem - The Butterbeer Experience (from 'The Final Battle' musical)
11- VI. - Draco and the Malfoys
12- The End - The Remus Lupins
13- Maybe - Lauren Fairweather
14- A Pensieve Full of Unrequited Love - The Mudbloods
15- All in Good Time - The Whomping Willows

Disc Three

1- On My Way - The Blibbering Humdingers (covering Snidget)
2- Chapter 34 (folk version) - The Butterbeer Experience
3- Death (Adolescent Mix) - Danny Dementor
4- Harry Potter Is Dead - Ministry of Magic
5- Kill the Snake - Seven Potters
6- Neville Neville - Gred and Forge
7- VIII. - Draco and the Malfoys
8- Always Remember - Snidget
9- Fred's Dead - Gred and Forge
10- Coming Home - Tonks and the Aurors
11- A Phoenix Lament - Ministry of Magic
12- Waiting On the Other Side - The Blibbering Humdingers
13- As the Sun Rises and the Smoke Clears (instrumental) - Hawthorn and Holly
14- Friends and Brothers, Kids and Lovers (reprise) - The Mudbloods
15- The Bravest Man I Ever Knew - Ministry of Magic

Phew! So, that's it. Books 1-7 in as good a chronological order as I could get them (there are definitely arguable parts, especially in Book 7). In addition to these, I also added a few more mixes:

MISCELLANEOUS (songs I couldn't fit on other mixes but wanted to include)



1- Pottercast PSA #8 (Cupboard) - Harry and the Potters
2- Accio Hagrid - Harry and the Potters
3- Hermione - The Moaning Myrtles
4- Volde-Who? - Ginny and the Heartbreakers
5- Oh, Child of Mine- Hawthorn and Holly
6- The Patronus Song - Lily and James
7- Sybill Trelawney - Catchlove
8- Voldemort Made Me Crap My Pants - The Blibbering Humdingers
9- Flesh, Blood and Bone - Harry and the Potters
10- Black Family Tree - Hawthorn and Holly
11- Firework (Wizard Style) - I Speak Tree
12- Mean Mr Filch / Lavendar Brown / She Died In An Upstairs Bathroom - Gred and Forge
13- Ice Cream Man - Harry and the Potters
14- We Are Magic - Tonks and the Aurors
15- Ginny Gets Around '11 - Gred and Forge
16- Looking for Trouble - The Remus Lupins
17- Pottercast PSA #12 (Horcruxes) - Harry and the Potters
18- Illuminate the Night - The Vashta Nerada
19- Evanesco Dobby - Ministry of Magic
20 - Mad-Eye Moody - Tonks and the Aurors
21- APWBD - The Remus Lupins
22- Snape Seeker - Lily and James
23 - Song for the Death Eaters - Harry and the Potters

BOOK EIGHT (a sampling of non-canon wizard rock songs)



1- Love Song for Sirius Black - The Blibbering Humdingers
2- Brotherly Love - Gred and Forge
3- Lovely Lily - The Remus Lupins
4- Malfoy - Witherwings
5- Cedric - The Moaning Myrtles
6- Expelliarmus Kid - Peeved
7- An Entering Hogwarts First Year Expresses His Concerns - The Mudbloods
8- Get Out of My Bathroom - Gred and Forge
9- Werewolves > Zombies
10- Love Me Luna - Swish and Flick
11- Rodolphus - Bella and Le Strangers
12- Bleepout Song - Fred Lives
13- Pretty Girl - Peeved
14- The Ballad of Neville and Luna - The Remus Lupins
15- Charlie Weasley - Tonks and the Aurors
16- Draco and Harry - The Whomping Willows
17- Timeturner - Hawthorn and Holly
18- Lily's Worst Memory - The Blibbering Humdingers
19- Teddy & Victoire - The Remus Lupins
20- Wizard Party Forever!!! - The Whomping Willows

EVIL MIX



1- Party Like You're Evil - Draco and the Malfoys
2- My Father Has a Tattoo (Dark Mark) - The Blibbering Humdingers
3- I Don't Want My Dad to Go to Azkaban - Hawthorn and Holly (feat. Swish and Flick)
4- The Death Eater Tango - The Butterbeer Experience
5- Voldemort Fangirl - The Parselmouths
6- Demented Love - Lily and James
7- Bella - Snidget
8- Pain - Bella and Le Strangers
9- Crabbencrantz and Goylestern - Nagini
10- Draco Malfoy - Swish and Flick
11- Voldemort is Awesome - Draco and the Malfoys
12- Only Power Remains - Ministry of Magic
13- Dark Mark Calling - The Blibbering Humdingers
14- The Only Evil Boy at Hogwarts - Bella and Le Strangers
15- Voldemort: a Love Song - The Mudbloods
16- A Thing for Malfoy - Hawthorn and Holly
17- March of the Death Eaters- The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office
18- Parstheltongue - The Blibbering Humdingers
19- Dementor Love - Nagini
20- I Wanna Be A Death Eater- Slytherin Soundtrack
21- My Obsession - The Parselmouths
22- Slytherin Weekend - Swish and Flick (feat. Prof. Snape)
23- 99 Death Eaters - Draco and the Malfoys

HOUSE MIX*



1- House Song - Ministry of Magic
2- Our Hufflepuff Happy Song - The Half-Kneazles
3- Don't Mess With the S - Lily and James
4- Gryffindor Rocks - Harry and the Potters
5- La La Luna - Hawthorn and Holly
6- No Shame in Hufflepuff - The Blibbering Humdingers
7- Slytherin Pride - Draco and the Malfoys
8- Gryffindor Rally Cry - Ministry of Magic
9- Real Ravenclaws - Slytherin Soundtrack
10- For All the Hufflepuffs - The Remus Lupins
11- S-l-y In Slytherin - Swish and Flick
12- Go Go Gryffindors! - The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office (feat. Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls)
13- It's Good to be a Ravenclaw - Lily and James
14- Everything Happens to Hufflepuff - Snidget
15- We're Slytherins! - Draco and the Malfoys
16- What's In Store (for a Gryffindor) - Lily and James
17- Ravenclaw Seeker - The Remus Lupins
18- Power 'Puff Boys - The Half-Kneazles
19- Not Half Bad - The Parselmouths
20- Hufflepuff Pride - Lily and James
21- It's a Slytherin World! - Draco and the Malfoys

* Two things: (1) House of Awesome Theme Song would totally have been on here but I ran out of room and had to put it on the next mix, and (2) There are very few songs about Ravenclaws. Come on, wizard rockers. Get on that! (Pottermore may have sorted me as Gryffindor, but I was a self-sorted Ravenclaw for ten years so I really want them to represent!)

FANDOM MIX



1- Leaky Cauldron - Diagon Alley
2- We're the Students at Hogwarts - Catchlove
3- House of Awesome Theme Song - The Whomping Willows
4- Accio Deathly Hallows - Hank Green
5- Post Potter Depression - Lauren Fairweather
6- Pottercast PSA #3 (Dumbledore) - Harry and the Potters
7- Like It's Quidditch - The Station
8- Dear Laura Mallory or (Harry Potter is) Satan in Disguise - Peeved
9- Wizard Rock Heart Throb - The Whomping Willows
10- Transparent - The Moaning Myrtles
11- Wrock Rocks - The Butterbeer Experience
12- My Friends Are Wizards - Hawthorn and Holly
13- This Is Never Going to End - The Parselmouths
14- The Harry Potter Alliance Rap - Andrew Slack
15- I Want Harry Potter Back - Lily and James
16- Book Eight - Hank Green
17- I'm Going to Hogwarts - Lauren Fairweather
18- I Wanna Be a Wizard - Danny Dementor (feat. Notorious NEV)
19- Fall in Love Tonight - The Whomping Willows
20- For Jo - Riddletm
21- It's Real For Us - Lauren Fairweather
22- When the Lights Go Out - The Whomping Willows
23- End of An Era - Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls
24- Open at the Close - The Honeyduke's Cellar Gang

Okay, so there you have it. I would love, love, LOVE suggestions for songs to add or rearrange.

One other quick note: I don't advocate stealing music from artists, and hope people won't be offended by the fact that I sent these mixes to my friend. First of all, she probably has many of them already. Second of all, I have invested a lot of money over the years buying merch and music from wizard rockers because I love the whole scene and the idea of writing music about books you love from the point of view of characters in them. I think the people in this fandom are incredible - creative, talented, kind - and would never EVER want to rip them off. But this is something I wanted to share, and the best way to do that was to send a physical copy instead of just a list. So yes... apologies if you're a wizard rocker and have read this post and feel cheated somehow. I buy your music! I come to your shows! Don't hate me, please! (Ducks head to avoid Jellylegs Jinx).

Peace. Love. Wizard Rock!




Monday, August 22, 2011

Love. Life. Never The Twain Shall Meet.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably never going to marry. Forget dating. Forget kids. Forget any of that.

It's not that I don't want to. I would love to find someone I love who loves me too who would want to make that kind of commitment and build a life together. But there are a few things I've come to realize about myself: (1) I'm not willing to obsess over this and put my life on hold to make such a thing happen. I don't want my life to be all about finding and maintaining romance. There are way too many other things going on. (2) I don't think I'm ready for love. Does that make sense? I think, to be more specific, that I am not yet a person worthy of receiving that kind of love from another person. I'm still really immature and kind of childish about a lot of things, self-obsessed sometimes to the point of being selfish and narcissistic, and I have so much to learn about what it means to be a decent person and how I should treat and interact with others. There's also (3) the fact that I'm not feminine or lady-like, that I'm more comfortable in jeans and probably spend less time on my hair than most guys do, and would rather receive a Barnes and Noble gift card than a diamond bracelet any day. I guess (3) doesn't have to be a problem, but I think for a lot of guys it would be.

Anyway, this whole little rant of mine was brought on by an unfortunate recent encounter. A person I've known only a very short while (three months, maybe?) asked me out... if you can call it that. Actually, he messaged me on facebook and said "we should grab dinner sometime." The day he suggested just happened to be a day I was out of town so I told him as much. I wasn't head over heels with the guy based on what I knew about him so far (which wasn't much), but I also have trouble saying no to people, so I replied that while I'd normally say yes, I just happened to be unavailable that day and could we do a raincheck. To which he replied: "sure. just tell me sometime thats good for you when you get back," or something to that effect.

Then Harry Potter happened. If you know anything about me, you know that what happened this July was a pretty HUGE freaking deal. Final movie, final fan conference (yeah... I don't think I'm going to another), first time at the park. A lot happened in that week, and I was still really emotionally invested in it for many weeks afterward. I was distracted by this thing that's been a huge part of the last five years of my life. Plus, work got really busy. Summer is our craziest time, and I had an August event to plan for as well as covering extra shifts for a coworker who was on vacation. And then my social life blew up with offers to get together with friends, many I'd seen recently but some I haven't seen for months or years. Life got crazy and I never got back to him. I feel bad, but at the same time if he'd really wanted to go out with me he could've dropped me another line on facebook (Yeah... not the best way to ask a girl out, but whatever. Some people are shy.) or said something to me in person the few occasions we met afterward (a group of friends often meet at his house to watch "True Blood" on Sunday nights).

But no... this is what happened. Many of these gatherings (game night, "True Blood" night) were cancelled mysteriously at the last minute. He says he'll attend certain other group events, but upon discovering I'll be there almost instantly drops out. This could very well be the whole narcissistic "this-is-about-me" thing when it's really not, so please take it with a grain of salt, but tonight when we left his house after a "True Blood" viewing I turned to my roommate and remarked, "Is [so-and-so] always that quiet? He didn't say a word to practically anyone the whole night." And she said, "Yeah, I think his ego is bruised since he expressed interest in you and you didn't really return the feeling. [Other-Friend] and I have talked about it and we think he's being an idiot, but yeah... that's probably what's going on."

So now I feel really angry. Maybe I'm a jerk. Maybe I'm insensitive. But I don't think so. Here's how I see it:

(1) How does "sure, normally I'd love to" and "let's do a raincheck" translate as rejection? Pretty much: it doesn't.
(2) Again, I know people can be shy about this stuff, but you're the man in this situation. Have some balls. Don't leave this thing hanging there to fizzle and die if you want something more to come of it. All it would have taken was another one-line facebook message: "So, are you still up for that dinner?" or something. I probably would have accepted, even if it didn't come to anything after that. But no... nothing. Just prideful silence.
(3) Don't change your plans to avoid me (if you are, in fact, doing that). You shouldn't ever give me that much power. Believe me, I'm not worth it.
(4) Don't think you have some right to be angry at me when we haven't even gone out. I'm sorry, but I don't owe you anything. So your ego's a little bruised? Get over it. You're older than me and yet you're acting like an immature little middle school girl, reading too much into words and actions that should simply be taken at face value.

So yeah. I really needed to vent. I know I'm blunt and clumsy and awkward and perhaps seem like I'm not open to love because I'm not actively seeking it out, but still... I am open to it. In fact, I long for it sometimes. A lot. The kind of deep, wrenching pang that I imagine an amputee might feel from a ghost limb. There is the notion of something missing, the feeling that I would be better off, more complete, by having it, but I'm not going to do that... I'm not going to be one of those girls that changes themselves and their plans to chase after love. If the love is going to be real, if it's going to be right, it's because you'll find someone who loves who you are and what you're really like. They'll fit into the life you've chosen for yourself, just as you'll fit into the life they've decided to lead.

I will say, though, that anyone who's going to fit romantically into the life I've chosen for myself will have to be better at communicating than this poor idiot who put such a damper on my evening. I'm not even angry at him anymore (okay, well maybe a little bit). Now I just kind of feel sorry for him. But everyone deserves love, so I hope he finds someone who will make him very happy. It just won't be me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The London Riots: It's Like Hogwarts

I want to speak freely and without disguise. When things like this happen, it always brings up the same questions. For me it comes down to the dichotomous relationship between random destruction and purposeful creation. Senseless violence is easy and immediate, while positive change, actually adding something of significance to the world, is slow-going and often difficult. While this is disheartening to realize, it also makes me appreciate all the more the good and positive things in my life.

It’s hard, though. Because how do you fight back? Vigilantism usually only adds to the problem. So what do we do? It’s easy to root for the heroes in the fictional books we read, adventure tales with easily identifiable bad guys and mostly literal fights, battles to be won with magic or sword or gun or physical prowess of some kind. But in the real world, faced with the wake of a school shooting, a suicide, a senseless murder, brutal riots—when it seems that evil is not only real but very nearby and very active, that it has conspired (and often succeeded) in doing harm to those you love, your family or friends, neighbors and community—what then? I don’t know.

I think there are only a few things we can do. They seem small, they don’t seem like enough when you want to be doing something, when you want to put a sword through an evil snake or slay bad guys with a light saber or figure out a way to magically make everything better somehow. But these two things are HUGE. These two things are at the crux of what makes us human: (1) we pick ourselves up, clean up, rebuild, restore, and (2) we keep at the slow but vital work of creation, compassion, growth and change.

There are many horrific pictures, videos, and stories flying around right now about the London riots. One of the most despicable things I’ve seen is a video of a group of young men who help a wounded boy to his feet—only, it turns out, to make it easier to mug him. Blood is dripping from a gaping head wound. He’s dazed, obviously doesn’t know what’s going on. The person holding the zoomed-in camera is too far away to do anything but shout in dismay when her initial hopes—“They’re helping him? He’s going to be alright?”—are dashed by what turns out to be simply more of the same, the idiotic and self-serving acts of small, detestable people.

But in the midst of these reports you hear things that make your heart swell. The #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter, as people sick of the violence and wanting something they can do to help come together, mobilize to try to repair some of the damages done these past few nights. Tears stung at my eyes to read a report of one person near a tube station: “Almost everyone getting off the Clapham Junction is carrying a broom,” she tweeted. And in reply, someone else said, “It’s like Hogwarts.” It is. IT IS! That’s exactly what it’s like! Out of the mouths of Muggles!

That’s what we do, we wizards. That’s what we stand for. We rebuild, we repair, we step up to help. We unite, using our bravery, our loyalty, our cunning and our smarts to stand up against this kind of senseless destruction. We are a community of dedicated, creative, enthusiastic people, constantly bringing new things into the world, whether it’s fan fic or wizard rock, podcasts or documentaries. We build others up through encouragement and friendship. We raise money to send five planes of supplies to people in desperate need of food, shelter, and medicine. We build libraries and support communities. And it’s thinking of these things that gives me hope.

Now when I see the images in the news or on Twitter, I can’t help but think, “I’m not afraid of you. Ultimately, you are powerless. Our weapon is much stronger than fire or clubs or guns. It’s like Hogwarts, which means the hooded figures wearing the masks are on the losing side. It’s like Hogwarts, so I’ve got to ask, “Yeah? You and whose army?” It’s like Hogwarts, which means no matter how much you take, how much you smash and destroy, how many people you harm, we’ve already won. So give it up, already. Try for a little remorse. Here, have a broom.

I don't know what will become of the city I love in the next few days, weeks, months. But I know that no matter what these fools will not prevail. Love is the only thing that can withstand, and their idiotic, selfish greed will fade into obscurity like the useless dust it is.

It's like Hogwarts, which means that in the end all is well.

All will one day be well.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Man Who Should Never Have Existed

There was once a man who realized that when he thought about it, really and truly, he never should have existed. Surely there had been some mistake made somewhere along the way for him to have even come into this world at all. He contributed nothing. He found no joy or meaning in the world around him. He felt like nothing more than a waste of space. And so he took it upon himself to try to find God, or an angel, or someone with some authority who might listen to his reasoning and perhaps do him the courtesy of erasing him out of existence entirely.

But God was elusive... very difficult to track down. The places that seemed to advertise His presence the most were often least likely to actually play host to Him. And when the man did seem to see God, it was always vaguely and at a distance, and it never lasted long enough to form the words. There was always prayer, as the reverends and ministers and priests and rabbis all reminded him. Send your plea up to heaven like a free-verse poem recited ever so sincerely to the ceiling. But the man wanted a face to face consultation, wanted to talk in person and get this thing hammered out once and for all. So he kept looking, and time after time he came up empty handed.

"There is really no reason for me to be here," he thought over and over again, and he knew in his heart of hearts that it was true. If God would not act, he would have to do something about this problem of existence himself, though what that might be he did not know. But with time the idea came to him. These moments, these hours and days should never have been his. If he could not scrub them out of history entirely, at the very least he could try to give them away. The comfort and safety he felt, the objects he possessed, his good health and relative prosperity-if it was impossible for him to negate these things on an existential level, at the very least he could get rid of them by sharing what he could with others who might make better use of it.

So he gave his time, his money, his things, his kindness and good intentions. He poured out as much of himself as he could hoping in the end there would be nothing left. But a curious thing happened... The more he tried to get rid of himself, the more he gave away, the more solid and firmly rooted in this world he became. Rather than turning him invisible or rendering him an empty shell, this new generosity of spirit and action seemed to have given him something of a purpose, a reason for existing. He was by no means whole or complete, and yet he could hardly argue anymore that he shouldn't be here. For there were many now who depended on his kindnesses who would surely miss him if he were gone. It was these people and their unlikely love and respect for him that acted like strings tying him down to the earth where before he had nearly floated away.


"I still don't feel like there's a reason," he is often known to say aloud. And maybe he's right. I don't know enough about time and space and the universe to understand everything about fate and destiny, design and order, plans and purposes. Who can really say for sure? But maybe we become each other's reasons. Maybe I tie you to this earth just as you tie me to it. Maybe we keep each other from disappearing completely.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Hand You're Dealt

"You play the hand you're dealt,"
but when you're only given one
you might as well have some fun.

Why let anyone else write the story
when you're the one holding the pen?
You won't get a chance to do any of this again.

So be brave and a little bit reckless,
show strength and self control
and understand that you may never feel quite whole.

Don't be satisfied with comfort.
Seek a deeper call.
Better to wander than never leave home at all.

Love without hesitation,
for wounds mend and brokenness heals
but a safe, sterile heart might never learn to feel.

Be wise in the things that matter
but cling to hope like a fool,
for Fate has been known on occasion to bend all the rules.

You are more than the sum of your moments
so don't cast blame on your stars.
Stand up and be the person you truly are.

We allow ourselves to sit dormant,
lying low, with nothing at stake:
a deep hibernation from which we may never wake...

Well, I'm done with that pitiful charade.
If the hand I'm dealt isn't much fun
then let's play a new game - 52 card pickup, anyone?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tact or Cowardice?

When it comes to speaking my mind, I suck. Not exactly.... I mean, I find some way to get what I think out there. Usually it involves this blog or reams of notebook paper or the word processor on my computer. Sometimes it involves a more public forum, something like Twitter or Facebook where family or friends can see what I've written and more easily respond.

This is where it gets sticky.

I have friends who fall all along the political spectrum on all manner of issues. Guns, animal rights, taxes, abortion, creationism vs. evolution, censorship, sex education, gay marriage, the death penalty. You name the issue and I guarantee I've got very good friends as far to each extreme of it as you can go.

How does this work, exactly? I'd like to be able to say that if a serious subject did come up in conversation and tempers started to flare that we'd just back away from it, "agree to disagree." But such an idea implies that I not only have an opinion but am willing to voice it, which is... untrue. In fact, I usually do the exact opposite: I avoid these subjects at all costs.

Of course, people don't necessarily have to talk about these issues all the time. There are plenty of other things we can agree on: television shows, favorite ways to spend a rainy afternoon, best ice cream flavors, amazing books you have to read, etc. But when the subjects do come up, when the times come around when such remarks are only natural... well, I fall back on silence.

Tonight my twitter feed was filled with celebratory messages about the vote approving legalized gay marriage in New York. I scanned all the messages and retweets and felt jealous and a little sad. I envied these people their ability to speak their minds without fear.

Because inevitably if you speak an opinion, someone whom you love and respect is going to disagree and will call you on it. It's awkward and uncomfortable. It often involves arguing back and forth, each trying to prove your point to the other, to get the other person to change their minds. I hate arguing. I try to avoid it at all costs. Thus: silence.

It's not just the arguing. It's that I hate disappointing people, and I feel like if I speak my mind someone will inevitably think "Oh, she's been brainwashed into that school of thinking..." When you're silent, when you're a blank page, when you're an empty vessel you can navigate throughout your sea of diverse friends and family without ever making waves or causing problems. I call it tact because I don't want to hurt anyone, and I don't want to lose anyone's respect. But I think it's really cowardice because it is rooted in a desperate, panicky kind of fear.

There are times I will speak out: I call out racist and homophobic comments, oppose people who advocate censorship, and even occasionally get the nerve to remind people who gripe about their taxes that without them we wouldn't have schools, roads, and libraries. If asked about guns, I'll tell the truth: they make me really uncomfortable, I never want to have one anywhere near my house, and I would have no problem at all with hand guns being completely banned in the U.S. I'll often quote Gandalf in Fellowship of the Ring to explain my stance on the death penalty: “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” I will gladly list the reasons that I despise Sarah Palin. I may even revisit the Gandalf quote to tentatively enter a discussion about abortion.

But for some reason this gay marriage thing has me stumped. Maybe it's because it isn't as clear-cut to my mind as these other issues are. I can see very clearly how both sides see their way of thinking as logical, and why both sides would be offended or disgusted by the views of the other.

I love C.S. Lewis; I think he was a very wise man. In one of his works, probably Mere Christianity, he talks about homosexuality as if it were a sexual disorder. As if it were a logical thing that might occur if the original design were to go awry. As horrifying as it sounds, I get that. If the original design is two biologically unique individuals whose combined anatomy creates new life and perpetuates a cycle of a romance/sexual relationship followed by the creation of a family, then yes... I can see how homosexuality would put a kink in the works. The logical and scientific part of my brain could see how an aberration from the biological norm would be seen as a disorder or flawed way of life. In a Darwinian sense, lacking the ability to procreate would definitely negatively affect your status when it comes to "survival of the fittest." And that's not even getting into the psychology of relationships, traits of gender or personality, roles within the family unit, etc.

But the creative part of my brain says, "Wait a second! Is that really how you're defining relationships? Can you even define relationships? And since when has 'being a couple' been only about having kids? Not to mention, why be limited by old-fashioned ways of doing things when modern technology has given us the tools we need to perpetuate the cycle regardless of your significant other's gender?" There's also the old, rather romantic refrain of "But why would you want to stand in the way of LOVE?" The idea is to paint those who oppose such a notion as hatemongers or ignorant, prejudiced fools. Don't get me wrong; there are plenty of those in the world. But many of the people I know who oppose gay marriage aren't hateful in the least, they're just very entrenched in their definitions of traditional gender roles or are trying to make sense of a religion that calls for us to love one another, even our enemies, and yet calls homosexual behavior an abomination and advocates the death of those who engage in it.

I don't think people who oppose gay marriage are all evil close-minded bigots, and I don't think the people who support it are all sex-obsessed hippies with loose morals. I think people are confused. I think a lot of changes are taking place in terms of gender traits and identity and that it's redefining the way we think about ourselves and our relationships with other people. I think there are waaaaaaaay to many other issues at play here for us to be flinging mud at one another.

So here's what else I think, the things I was afraid to say on twitter and facebook: I'm so happy they legalized gay marriage in New York. I think in terms of our government and the way that it is set up that it is ludicrous to deny a citizen basic rights allowed to other citizens because of a single distinguishing factor like sexual orientation. What's more, I like seeing people make each other happy. I love seeing people in love getting a chance to express their love publicly and without fear, and to have it recognized by the government. This picture makes me happy:



But at the same time, my mind is not completely made up about homosexuality. I know it seems backwards of me to say this, but there is so much logic in the way the natural world functions that I sometimes wonder if the "thinking-outside-the-box" mindset humanity brings to the table will do more damage than harm in the end. (I know, I know... homosexuality does exist in nature. That's a whole other rabbit trail I'm not going to go into right now.) Basically, if we take this step to redefine relationships, marriage, love, sex, gender, and family, then we're going to have to live with the consequences, good or bad.

See how many different people I've managed to make angry in just those last two paragraphs? This is why I keep my mouth shut. Before I called it tact or cowardice, but maybe it's just self preservation. Maybe it's just me realizing that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, so perhaps I should just keep my opinion to myself.

I don't know. But for now I'm done. So let's return to silence...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Fictional Men of My Dreams

There's a blog I love reading called Forever Young Adult where adult ladies (as in, over 18) review books that are targeted for teens but actually appeal to a broad spectrum of ages. Among many other criteria, they often rate a book's romantic lead based on a scale of "swoonworthiness." This made me ponder who would top my list in terms of "swoonworthiness" and why.

Here are some fictional boys and men that I’ve swooned over in my day… The following list is in no particular order.

(1) The Wizard Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones



I should emphasize that the Howl I’m in love with is Wynne Jones’s Howl, the one from the book, not the anime-ish Miyazaki version. But it’s pretty much impossible to find a good picture of him that hasn’t been at least influenced by Miyazaki’s movie. I mean this in terms not only of looks, but also of personality and actions. While the movie Howl captured some things well (Howl’s sulking, his confidence, his habit of keeping secrets and not wanting to let people in, his reluctance to get involved in the affairs of the kingdom), Miyazaki went off in a completely different direction with the story and lost some of what I loved about Howl. I love his snark, his witty comebacks, how he and Sophie are always at each other and yet underneath a layer of affection and deep respect is forming. I love how he’s bound by this secret, this spell (there’s something sexy about a man that’s at war with himself). What is interesting about Howl is that we know his faults—he’s irresponsible sometimes to the point of recklessness, vain to the point of being utterly annoying, and confident in his abilities to the point of being cocky—and yet can’t help but love him anyway. It certainly helps that Sophie is a strong woman who loves him enough to not be willing to put up with his nonsense. So yes, the first guy on my list is a free spirit, a loose cannon, someone who Thinks Big and usually gets away with it. Plus, you’ve got to admit, he’s pretty darn good-looking.

(2) Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien



In stark contrast to Howl, there’s Samwise Gamgee. Sam is fiercely loyal. He’s the heart and soul of the group (at least I think so). He loves the comforts of home and yet he’s willing to give that all up to go face new horizons and dangers to try to save the people and places he loves most. He is the utter pinnacle of bravery and sacrifice. Yes, he has his faults. He’s unwilling to give Smeagol the benefit of the doubt, and lashes out in anger and mistrust when compassion could have gone a long way. He’s not perfect, but he’s kind, funny, honest, fierce, brave, and true. And that makes him one of the most amazing hobbits (and characters) EVER.

(3) Josh Lyman from The West Wing



Where to begin? He’s very intelligent. He’d kind of have to be to become Deputy White House Chief of Staff. He’s also funny, charming, a fighter, can be totally badass… things you would expect in a politician, or at least an idealistic one. But, that said, he’s also kind of like a kid in a grown-up’s body. He can sometimes get himself in trouble by speaking before he thinks. He is the king of wisecracks, though all the other characters on the show (especially his assistant Donna) are pretty fierce competition for that title. When it comes to romance he is adorably clueless, even explaining outright to a girl he likes, “Somewhere along the way, probably in college, when everybody else was figuring this stuff out I missed learning the whole part about what to do after you’ve figured out you like someone and they might like you back.” I mean, gotta love that honesty.

(4) Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling



If there’s one thing I absolutely love, it’s seeing someone come into their own. Watching Neville go from a kid who was petrified of his own shadow (or at the very least Snape’s shadow), to the total BAMF who slays Nagini with the Sword of Gryffindor in Book 7… Whew! Bring out the smelling salts! No seriously… Neville has always been brave - as recognized by Dumbledore at the end of Book 1, he was willing to stand up to his friends when he saw them doing something wrong. That’s courage. We tend to think of it as smaller scale courage than, say, taking on a murderous snake with a sword, but it takes the same strength of character. Like Harry, Neville has a tragic past, and is dealing the whole length of the series (most of his life, really) with the loss of his parents. What makes it even more tragic is that they’re not dead; they’re still alive, but have lost any capacity to even recognize him any more. The gum wrapper scene in Book 5 utterly broke my heart.

I think I like Neville so much because I identify with him. He wouldn't seem like a natural leader, and when Harry and company are around he blends easily into the background. But when the need arises - starting with the rise of Umbridge and the formation of the DA in Book 5 and reaching a climax in Book 7 when Harry, Ron and Hermione don't return to Hogwarts - if something needs to be done and there's no one else to do it, he'll gladly step up. I've always been reluctant to consider myself a Gryffindor (though Pottermore cleared that up for me!) because I felt like I didn't have the obvious, Harry-Potter-ish kind of courage. But maybe I'm more like Neville. His gentle, bumbling exterior masks a true and loyal heart and a fierce courage and determination to fight for what's right.

(5) Jess from Gilmore Girls



My Dad would kill me for including Jess on this list, but I’m sorry… (a) it’s really hard to resist a bad boy, and (b) over the course of the series Jess matures a great deal. At the beginning he has the whole irresistible “mysterious loner” vibe going on. He’s well-read, intelligent (seriously… a huge turn-on for me!), witty, brooding. That said, he does treat Rory like a jerk for a while there. In fact, I was really sad about what they did to his character…. but then they brought him back in a later season and gave him a really cool ending. He’s had time to reflect on what he did wrong and apologizes to her. He’s still in love with her kind of, but what he wants is for her to be happy, even if that means that he can’t be a part of her life. How cool is that? Plus he’s written a book by this point, one that’s about to be published, which is pretty freaking awesome. Mysterious-And-Troubled-Loner Turned Man-Of-Letters? SWOON.

(6) David Tennant as the tenth Doctor from Doctor Who



The Doctor as a character has been around a long time, and prior to David Tennant arriving on the scene he’s been played by nine other actors. That’s the beauty of the Doctor; he can regenerate in a new form when his life is in peril. I’ve only ever seen three Doctors in action: Christopher Eccleston (Nine), David Tennant (Ten), and Matt Smith (the current Doctor, Eleven). But David Tennant, along with being my favorite portrayal just in terms of the series as a whole, is also definitely the most swoonworthy of them. Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal was more serious; Matt Smith’s is more silly, almost like a little kid. David Tennant brought the perfect combination of these traits to his portrayal. He could bear whole universes of sadness in his eyes; he could become quite grave when reflecting on the possible genocide of a helpless alien race; but he could also crack a ridiculously corny joke and leave you utterly enchanted with a flop of his hair, wag of the eyebrows, and a flash of that goofy lopsided grin.



He has this Willy-Wonka-ish madman-meets-genius quality to him. In fact, one of my favorite lines describing the Tenth Doctor is this exchange of two minor characters observing him at work for the first time:

Character One: “He’s completely insane!”
Character Two: “That, and a bit magnificent!”

That’s exactly it. He’s insane, he’s larger-than-life, he’s kind, courageous, big-hearted (better still—he has two!), wise, tragically sad, buoyantly funny, hopeful, optimistic in the face of often-impossible odds. He’s lonely. He’s curious. He’s playful. He’s always on the lookout for a new adventure. He’s open-minded. He’s very anti-violence. He’s sometimes ridiculously cocky, but it’s never really a turn-off because he always manages to back it up. And perhaps best of all, he’s offering a chance for you to come away with him, to see the vast mysteries of time and space unfold before you, to see worlds and histories that would normally be beyond your imagining… and to be back in time for tea. Who wouldn’t want to fly away with him in that amazing blue box?

(7) Cpl. Eddie Birdlace from Dogfight



This last one may seem pretty obscure. Dogfight is one of my favorite films of all time, mostly because of River Phoenix’s performance. It came out sometime in the 90s, but it was set in the late 60s I believe. Since it’s not as familiar a film, here’s a brief plot recap:



Corporal Eddie Birdlace has a night to kill before shipping out to Vietnam in the morning. He’s gone in with a group of his fellow marines for a “dogfight,” their name for a dance that’s really a contest to see who can bring the ugliest/most embarrassing/most outrageously odd date. The guy with the worst “dog” of the group wins prize money. While scouring the town trying to pick up a hideous enough date, Eddie comes across Rose, the doudy daughter of a cafe owner. She’s plain, a little boring, but very idealistic, strumming along (slightly off-key) with folk songs and talking about changing the world through music. He figures she’ll do for a date. The problem? As the night progresses, he starts to actually like her, to enjoy spending time with her, but there’s really no way to go back. When she inevitably finds out what the shindig was really all about, things of course sour very quickly. After a hard-earned apology, he takes her out for a night on the town to try to make it up to her.

I can’t say exactly what it is that I like about him. Of course there’s the fact that River Phoenix was very easy on the eyes, even with that military haircut. I prefer him with floppier hair, like this:



But it’s more than that. Eddie is quiet. As much as he kind of laughs at her idealism, in a way he’s very idealistic himself. He’s immature, but he’s willing to try to change. I love the scene where they go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and Rose, tired of scolding him for cursing so much, decides to make a point by inserting expletives for every other word of her dinner order. The shell-shocked waiter is funny enough, but Eddie’s response and the aftermath between the two is just hiliarous. What else do I like about him? Well, the fact that he was willing to change his mind about her. That he could see beyond the surface, that she may not be a knockout but that she’s kind and sincere and not worth hurting. That she’s someone he wants to spend more time with. I don’t know… he’s an odd one to have on this list, I know. But something about his soulful way of looking at her, the fact that you know there’s so much more brimming beneath the surface than is ever being said or expressed, the fact that while he is a stupid kid who doesn’t know very much about the world he’s still so very willing and eager to grab at life… which makes the ending that much sadder, but perhaps also that much more hopeful.

I think I like that he pursues her, but that he respects her. That he’s annoyed by her sometimes, but also intrigued by her. I like that he allows himself to change in some ways while sticking to his guns on other things. I like that he’s soft-spoken and shy in some ways, and also that he’s very big into the military/group dynamic, but that once you get him beyond that initial turtle-shell he can be independent and has clear opinions and is very passionate about certain ideas. I like that he’s gentle and I like that he’s strong. He’s a study in contradictions.

So yes, two things: (a) you should probably see this movie, (b) to sum up, I think I like him because of his contradictions, because he’s flawed and interesting, complicated and real.



Okay, so that’s my list of seven.

This list excludes figures of classical literature, like Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice



or Sydney Carton from Tale of Two Cities.



It also excludes classic films, otherwise you'd have Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront. Whoa momma!



Here are a few others who almost made the list:

Edward Scissorhands (the quintessential outsider longing for love and companionship),



Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother (yes, he’s a man-whore for most of the series, but near the end he really matures and becomes quite lovable… that, and he’s freaking HILARIOUS!),



Spike from Buffy and Angel (villain-turned-warrior-for-good),



and Shang from Mulan (one of the first times I realized a cartoon character could be sexy!).



There are some I’ve purposefully avoided mentioning (sorry, but characters like Edward Cullen or Jace Wayland who are obviously supposed to be swoonworthy don’t do it for me. I like my guys to earn it, thank you very much, by having things like a backbone, not being super stalker-y, and treating the women in their lives like free-thinking independent people, not fragile things to be protected at all costs).

But I stick by my choices. I really like all of them, faults and all. I'd be lucky to fall in love with a man anything like any of them. Please let such men exist out there somewhere... let them not be simply the creations of fiction!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chasm

There is a chasm in front of me. No bridge, no path. Just the thing I want more than anything, more than health or life or sanity, shining there on the other side, entirely out of reach.

There it is, and it will never be mine.

There is a chasm in front of me, and to leap would mean to die.

Because it is insane, this thing called hope, this ridiculous notion that would have me believe that halfway down I'll grow wings.


Mary

I've become that girl, haven't I? You know... Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice. Everybody wants to be spirited like Elizabeth or sweet like Jane, or even boy crazy and somewhat foolish like Kitty and Lydia. But Mary is just priggish and boring and dreadfully self-important. She's a drag. The very opposite of the life-of-the-party. Of all the Bennetts, I'd say she's perhaps the worst. At least the Kitty/Lydia/Mrs. Bennet trifecta of annoyance has some spirit to them. Mary is just mawkish and horrible.

And I think I've become her.

Seriously, if people who have kids become Those Annoying Parents who talk non-stop about their children, then I'm the writing version of that... only in the case of children, they're usually cute and precocious and have these utterly amazing out-of-the-mouths-of-babes crazy/awesome stories to share. In my case, I have emo poetry and pointless projects that I'm just fulfilling because I made myself a stupid promise I'd try to create something each day.

I mean, how gimmicky is that?

I feel sad sometimes when people who should be really close to me don't really know me, when all they think I care about is writing when it's really not. But I can't get mad at them, because I suck at letting people in. It's like, I don't know... when we were little kids getting to know a person meant playing together, and play usually involved a huge amount of imagination. Let's pretend to be pirates! Let's pretend to be fairies! Let's play dress-up! Let's reenact scenes from The Lion King movie! Let's pretend the treehouse is a deserted island! Let's bury a time capsule in this Sunny D bottle and guess who will dig it up fifty years from now and what they'll say when they find what we've left inside! Okay, so those are some pretty specific examples, but you get the idea... imagination. Creativity. Play.

When you grow up, social interaction morphs into something else. I can't really put a finger on when this happens. Probably during the teenage years, but I was (and still am) awkward and not good at embracing change, so I guess I kind of skipped that whole part. But essentially, now social interaction centers around... (1) Eating: Let's do lunch! Wanna grab some coffee and talk? etc. (2) Shopping (moreso for girls than guys), (3) Alcohol... this is part "Let's have a good time!" and part "Let's escape the drudgery of day jobs and responsibilities and blow off some steam." (4) Sex/Romance. I've definitely missed out on this one, but for average people my age it's a huge part of many relationships... whether they're in pursuit of or currently in the throes of or have just emerged from such intimacy, everybody seems to be thinking about it. (5) Pop culture. People have always discussed art and related to each other through it, whether that's paintings and sculptures or movies, TV, pop music, books and video games.

I don't know. There are probably more... but I'm tired and not thinking straight. In any case, these things aren't bad.... but they're very different. And they're very surface-oriented. My brother Wes and I bond through a common love of the show Parks and Recreation. We'll get into these conversation where eventually it just ends up with us quoting our favorite lines back and forth to each other, both chuckling like madmen. This is fun, and it's nice that I can share something with my brother, but it's a surface connection. I don't really learn a lot about him as person from the encounter, other than the fact that he has an awesome sense of humor (and good taste in TV shows). Shopping, eating, drinking, romance... these are all great things, but I miss the little kid stuff.

I know, the argument that you hear a lot is that make believe is a form of escapism, but I think that's silly. If anything, I think we adults are the ones who are most guilty of trying to escape our lives. We party at the weekend, or dive headfirst into romance, fill empty evenings with TV shows and web surfing... "eat, drink, and be merry, because tomorrow we die." I think we fill our lives with all these things to try to escape the fact that we feel like something is missing. Maybe that something is a person; we feel alone and want to be loved. Maybe that something is a purpose; we hate our jobs and wish we could do something where we felt fulfilled and like we were accomplishing something worthwhile. Maybe that something is completely different... I don't know. But I think we try to escape our lives every day, while little kids, with their creativity and imagination, are the ones who are embracing the world as fully as possible, and even trying to go beyond it.

So yeah, I started out thinking I'm Mary. And maybe I am. This past month or so, I've been majorly mawkish... But this frustration with the new dynamic to relationships is fair, I think. I wish we weren't so afraid to imagine together anymore. There is power in pretending. You learn so much about a person when you see what they can dream.

Okay, well the world is supposedly ending today, so I should probably go. But, if things don't end, I want to try to be better. I want to try to balance my life, even if it means compromising with the "adult" part of it. We'll see if that's a possibility...

Tomorrow.