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:


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


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


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


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!


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


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.


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


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


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!)


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.