24 December 2007

A Study of Contrasts

I'm going to give you a bit of warning. This post has the potential to enter some cheese. I'm struggling to find a way to say what I want to say that doesn't come across as overly sentimental or over reaching for profoundness. We'll see how it works out.

Tonight we all gathered with some family friends to enjoy dinner and talking and singing carols among other things. It was wonderful. My extended family includes so many wonderful people I'm not related to by blood. Looking around at everyone, I felt very blessed to have all of my family healthy and safe and happy this time of year. Especially because of what happened later tonight after we had finished eating dinner. We got word that a family in our stake discovered that their little baby has leukemia this afternoon and had to drive to a hospital a few hours away that is better equipped to treat him in an ambulance. Their boy is about three - things aren't really looking good.

What a contrast to my Christmas Eve. I made it safely home while thousands of people are stranded in airports all over the country because of horrible weather. I have family and friends that are safe and happy and well. I will wake up tomorrow morning and spend the day in my pajamas while this family spends their day in a hospital - if things go well. That just kills me. It makes me feel so sick.

I'm not sure how this next thought connects, but bear with me. One of my favorite Christmas songs is "What Child is This". The tune is haunting because of the major/minor chord shifts, but I'm not up on music theory so I'm not going to get into it. Really, there are only a few versions of this song I really appreciate because (unfortunately) in most versions of the song, the artists cut out the second and third chorus and just sing the first one three times. As far as Christmas songs go, that's the one that sums up the whole Christmas message to me. It's a study of the life of the Savior, really. The words tell of his birth and crucifixion - and end with a mother singing her baby a lullaby. The single most important event that ever occurred in the history of the earth - and it's contrasted with this image of a mother putting her baby to sleep. It's beautiful. It's a child and a mother together on Christmas. It happens all over the globe every year.

I suppose, then, this is my way of wishing all of you (wherever you are, and if there even are any of you) a Merry Christmas. I hope that your families are safe and well, and I hope that the spirit of the Savior will be with you.

(See? I told you it would be cheesy.)

13 December 2007

Comedic Hyperbole

So we've come to the end of another semester at the Y, and with finals week ahead of me (and some major procrastination tonight as I decide not to study in utter rebellion), I've decided to make a list of things that would be preferable to finals week. (Note the potential sarcasm typhoon approaching).

1. Living with Delores Umbridge
2. Being locked in a room with Freddy Krueger
3. All the laughter in the world sounding like Sponge Bob's laugh.
4. Nails on a chalk board
5. The chorus to "Yellow Submarine" as a continual soundtrack to my life
6. Taking a Blast-Ended Skrewt for a walk.
7. A friendly cup of tea with Darth Vader
8. Kissing a boy with a combo of onion/garlic/booger/vomit breath (I'm assuming this one)
9. Having the "My Heart Will Go On" song play every time I see PDA on campus
10. Poison Ivy underwear
11. A cross-country road trip in July in a car without air conditioning or a radio, and only an awkward home teacher for company (and we would probably break down in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. Haven't heard of it? No one else has either).
12. Being forced to watch "Charly" or any other rubbish/sappy movie for any amount of time (short or long).
13. Listening to my Bishop's chastity talk every Sunday in church.
14. Living with Frodo Baggins while under influence of the ring.
15. Having the voice in my head sound like a combination Dobby/Gollum/Smeagol
16. Having to listen to that boy in my English class who finds himself more clever than he really is project any louder than he already does.
17. Being forced to read any more descriptions in Twilight of how beautiful Edward is. Whine whine whine.
18. Every theater in Utah only performing Romeo and Juliet.
19. Hiking across the moors for eternity with Heathcliffe, Rochester, Willoughby, David Copperfield and every other stupid/brooding/angsty/slimey hero
20. Barney. Anything.

That being said, I am very happy to be done with my classes this semester and am definitely looking forward to a week at home with my dog, a pile of movies, and a stack of books to work through. It's going to be fabulous.

04 December 2007

An ode to my pale face

I was walking to my History (ugh) class today after dance and saw a rather well known sight around this campus: a girl who looks like she's been attacked by an orange.

It isn't really unique to BYU. Girls everywhere have been obsessed with fake bronzer forever in an attempt to look like they've just come back from a week at the beach (though anyone who goes to the beach legitimately comes back not looking orange). Unfortunately, most of these girls end up looking like they've gotten in the way of some poorly applied stage make-up. It's thick and circular and looks a bit like a mask on a face instead of make-up. This girl that I saw literally had about a half an inch of space at the top of her forehead revealing her naturally pale skin between her hair line and where the bronzer picked up. It's disgusting. Another girl I know regularly has a ring of orangy-stuff that stops around her jaw line. Every time I see her I want to run up and at least attempt to rub the stuff in but no one has ever bothered to tell her, apparently. As it is this campus is covered with orange faced-pale necked girls thinking that it looks decent. They're probably the same girls who think that mini-skirts and leggings are acceptable clothing (either in the modesty or attractiveness camp, take your pick). They probably get along well with all the boys walking through the snow in board shorts and flip flops 21 days before Christmas. Dressing for summer won't make it come faster!

This presents two problems: nasty orange unnatural faces that just look stupid, or a herd of females who never learned the purpose of make-up and never had a mother kind enough to show them how (or maybe it goes farther back than that). As far as I'm concerned, the make up I wear is just to even out skin tone and maybe enhance a feature or two - a bit of eye shadow, for example, to make my eyes look a bit bluer. But I don't want to look clownish. It's horrendous!

So this is my thanks to my mother who took the time to teach me how to pick the right foundation color, a plea to all girls on campus thinking that fake sun will make the real sun suddenly banish winter from Utah county (it won't. deal with it), and a hug for my pale skin that I am proud of. In fact, I spend a lot of time in the summer making sure that my skin doesn't get tanned. (Granted, I don't really tan well, I burn, but all the same). It is just further proof that I should have been born in another era.

15 November 2007

Sending Glares

Do you ever have days when you just want to be frustrated because you can? Today is one of those days for me. My day hasn't been particularly bad, there have just been a series of events today that make me want to glare. So here it goes.

A glare for the man in the back of the library auditorium I'm sitting in right now who took away my cookie. I have to have something to keep me awake during this lecture...

A glare for whoever it was that thought it would be good to make me give up my chance to sleep in for once this Saturday. I am very angry about this.

A glare for my pillow. I need a new one. It doesn't support my neck which gives me upper back problems.

A glare because I want to watch North and South but I've loaned it out.

A glare because if I had North and South I wouldn't be able to justify watching it because of all the homework I've been skipping.

A glare for seeing people you don't want to see.

A glare for not seeing people you do want to see.

Two glares for the history department for wasting another hour of my life.

I suppose I should probably end on something positive?

A grin for almost being done with the semester.

A grin for the weekend.

Several grins for a new episode of Robin Hood to look forward to.

A grin for almost being caught up with my English homework.

A smirk for managing a good grade on a History assignment even though I only spent an hour on it, proving once again that my writing skills are superior to everyone. (I'm only partly kidding).

A grin for Thursday closing shifts at work.

A grin for pie night last night with my friends which was SO much fun (and so good. I'm in love with whoever made the apple).

Aaannd...a grin for solitare on my computer. It passes time quite nicely.

Some late night updates

There are times when writing is a really wonderful distraction. It will have to be right now. I'm feeling sick and won't be able to sleep for a little bit. As a result I decided it was time for a bit of change in the blogesphere. I've had the same background since I started this thing (I think) and I still had my little Harry Potter 7 predictions tab and I never uploaded a picture!. So. I have done so. I have officially added a picture of me in Warwick this summer. The caption is in reference to The Lady of Shalott and the quote from Anne of Green Gables, where my blog got its name in the first place. A tad bit cliche, I suppose. Every female at BYU who ever saw (or read) Anne of Green Gables says that they are fans but they're all wrong. Trust me on this one. My life is ridiculously Anne-ish and anyone who thinks they have me beat needs to speak with the 25 or so girls I went to England with this summer. They will all back me up. Or my mother. Who would also back me up (but she's a bit more biased). I take great pride in the imaginary kinship I have with Maud.

I've been reading her journals lately and I've been having a really marvelous time of it. I love how her word choice leaves a reader knowing exactly when she is being sarcastic or funny or sadistic on purpose or for effect. It's wonderful. I just finished a section during her one year (only one! I'm so jealous) of teachers college. It was hilarious because (apparently) some things will never change. She writes about waking up late for classes or playing jokes on professors and going through classroom management classes at Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown, PEI-all things that I have done/will do.

What is unfortunate about all this is that I know where her story ends. It's horrible. The road to the publication of Anne was long and ended up landing her in a nasty business deal with L.C. Page Co. that forced her into writing several sequels in the series that she didn't want to write. She ended up with a husband later in life who was bound to fits of depression and misery that rubbed off onto her to the point where she stopped writing anything in the months leading to her death in 1942. The stress and tragedy of World War I had been bad enough-World War II was more than she could handle. Such a sad life, in the end. Such a high price to pay for publication. It makes me wonder what she would think of the popularity of her book now. was popular enough when it was first published but now the series is embedded permanently in the ranks of the classics. She'd probably think it was a bit of a joke. I wonder at what she would think of all that's happened to PEI in the touristy realm. I suppose I am lucky in that sense-I don't really feel altogether attached to a single place. I feel more or less convinced that I could be happy anywhere (though I might need a bit more convincing if the place didn't have much season variation. I love the change of season).

I'm going to try and sleep. We'll see how it works out.

10 November 2007

A List to Ward off Boredom

1. I sort of got this idea from Heather's blog (there's a link on the side bar).
2. Only I'm not going to attempt 100 on my list. I think I'll just go until I feel like stopping.
3. I'm listening to a very angry song by Regina Spektor
4. Which goes along nicely with my still hacked off mood over my blasted history test
5. I should be reading The Moonstone for my English class. Instead I've put it next to my computer. I think it's taunting me.
6. I probably spend more time writing than I should.
7. I actually have many things I need to do. Like go buy food and catch up on History readings, but I don't want to do those because then it feels like giving in to this professor and I'd rather just spite him. Even though I doubt he cares much whether I do his busy work or not.
8. I am usually the only one home any more because my roommates are all out with fiance's or visiting family during the weekends.
9. I mostly like it, but I don't have much of a social life so it makes me feel kind of guilty and like I should go intrude on some other group of apartments and make them adopt me or something.
10. I am deliberately skipping an Iowa reunion party to avoid seeing a few people I don't want to see.
11. That makes me happy.
12. I get really annoyed when people sound surprised at when I tell them I'm not dating anyone.
13. I get even more annoyed when they assume that if I can't go do something it's because I have plans with a boy.
14. I get even more more annoyed when their response to either one of the above is "but you're so cute"! As if that should solve all dating problems. Forgive me for wanting company of a guy who actually wants to be with me for more reasons than how I look.
15. I find it slightly creepy when girls say "If I were a boy I'd date you!"
16. I take great pleasure in my ability to quote large sections of every movie on my shelf.
17. My shelf is actually the bottom part of my closet because my real shelf is covered with books and other various trinkets.
18. I should probably get rid of some of those trinkets because they just clutter things up, but I am also a pack rat.
19. I'm not as bad with pack-ratting as my old roommate Sarah, who came home from her honeymoon yesterday and proceeded to dump a bunch of her trash into our recently emptied trash can. Now I have to take out her trash. Again.
20. I get really annoyed with people who leave lights on.
21. I got that from my dad.
22. I have a National Geographic calender from two years ago still. I save it because it has so many great pictures in it. I change the picture every few days.
23. Most of the movies on my closet 'shelf' are either books turned into movies or Englishy-type movies.
24. I have a guilty love of Gilmore Girls
25. It actually makes me really happy when people compare me to Rory Gilmore, mostly because I always wanted to look like her in High School and when people started telling me I did it gave me a bit of an ego.
26. I'm still slightly ticked off at the Hale for not calling me back for Christmas Carol this year. I deserved it.
27. Robin Hood Wednesdays are my favorite days of the week because I get to hang out with some of my friends.
28. I want to go home for Christmas, but I'm not really looking forward to it, mostly because my room isn't my room any more, and I think I'll probably die a little when I see how different everything is. I don't like thinking of myself as a guest with my family, but I guess that's sort of how it is now.
29. I'm a wimp. A complete wimp.
30. I hate practical jokes. I don't like playing them, but I really don't like being the brunt of them.
31. I think I should have been born in a different era. Preferably in England. But not too early. The Industrial Revolution would have sucked.
32. I still have a morbid fascination with the Titanic.
33. I also have a morbid fascination with the obituaries
34. But I only read the obituaries for people who look like they've died too young. I'm not sure why.
35. I still feel bad for liking to visit my mom's family more than my dad's when I was younger. I think it's because my mom's side of the family did things like go to movies. Playing old board games with my dad's family didn't quite cut it for me.
36. But I still love my dad's family.
37. If I could write like anyone it would be Lucy Maud Montgomery. Something about the way she writes is just comfortable.
38. I don't want to write anything remarkable. I don't want to say anything really profound. I'd rather just write a good story that people can enjoy.
39. With the exception of two people, I rarely stay in touch with people if they move away/move on in life. Those two people know who they are.
40. I own three different versions of Pride and Prejudice on DVD.
41. But my favorite movie I own is North and South.
42. I really want to start reading Harry Potter again from book one through the end but I won't let myself do it until I've finished reading Return of the King.
43. Return of the King has been in reading limbo for months now because school keeps getting in the way.
44. I think Eowyn is probably my favorite example of a woman in literature ever. Mostly because I love that she finds balance between being a warrior and fighting for what she wants, but is also gentle and good and a strong woman. I think that's really admirable.
45. I still wish Peter Pan would materialize and teach me how to fly.
46. I think it's annoying that my younger siblings will get cell phones and cars and things for all of high school, when I didn't get a cell phone until after I'd graduated and only got a car for half of my senior year.
47. I'm especially bitter about this because my brother doesn't take care of the car like I did, and also has a driving record much worse than mine.
48. Two weeks ago I was in the car with two different people who both got pulled over.
49. Both of them got off their tickets though. I think I'm a good luck charm.
50. This is a better homework-avoider than solitare.
51. Which I got addicted to last year.
52. I miss my dog probably more than anyone in my family.
53. I don't know if that's true. I miss them all. But Schatzie's pretty sweet.
54. When I'm old I want to be like my grandparents. I think they're amazing.
55. I interviewed them recently for another stupid history assignment-only I don't care if I fail this one because of some stupid reason, I got to know my grandpa a little more. I didn't know all that information about him. It was really cool.
56. I want to graduate. Really really bad.
57. When I graduate I want to go to England. Really really bad.
58. I don't know why America hasn't picked up on the good chocolate train. Cadbury kicks Hershey trash.
59. To my dying day I will say that Mars Bars are better than Milky Ways even though they are more or less the same, simply because one of them is British and one of them is not.
60. I've never really felt much patriotism to the US. Not that I don't like it here, I just don't have any real attachment to the country.
61. And I don't feel guilty about that.
62. If Hillary is elected I am going to think very seriously about jumping the border. Canada is a nice place to live, no?
63. I would never want to live anywhere where there wasn't snow.
64. Especially California or Texas.
65. I wish that all BYU students who complain about the weather would migrate south for the winter and leave the rest of us be. Or just go to school in Long Beach. I'm not picky.
66. I get annoyed when people say prayers that give thanks for being at 'the Lord's University'. Not that I don't like BYU but that's a little egotistical in a prayer, don't you think?
67. I was a cheerleader for two years in high school, even though I really hated my school. I just did it for the sport.
68. I don't like having to defend myself when people find out I was a cheerleader. While I did it I really enjoyed it.
69. I do like when people say that I'm classy, though. Because that's the kind of person I want to be.
70. I really love Turkish Delight. I think it's divine.
71. I have a pair of bright pink slippers that are a real talking point whenever I wear them.
72. I also have some pink pajamas and a pink robe, but I really don't like the color pink all that much.
73. I wish girls still wore nightgowns. I think they're comfortable.
74. I have a huge fear of vomit.
75. I am hungry.

There. I got 3/4ths of the way to 100. That's probably more than anyone who actually reads this really wanted to know about me.

08 November 2007

A list of Grievances

This is written in response to a test I took recently for a class I should not have to take, and is written as a means of catharsis. It is directed particularly to the BYU History department, my professor, and whichever TA graded my test.

1. It is absurd that you (the BYU History Department) are making me re-take four classes and not accepting my AP credit. My AP US/European History teachers would successfully kick the man currently lecturing to me into the ground. I should not be forced to waste my time in classes that are too simple when I could be moving on to something interesting. It is a waste of my time and money.

2. When a professor puts a point value on a question, it is ridiculous to change the point value after the test has been taken. If a question is listed as 3 points, I will give a 3 point answer. Doubling the point value is unfair and slightly dishonest and changes the way I answer a question.

3. If the average on your test is a 72% for a Gen Ed, then we have a problem.

4. Ask the question you mean to ask on the essays. If you want me to use certain names/terms/angles in my writing, then tell me. If a prompt is as broad as "Describe how the Enlightenment affected civilization between 1640 and 1810", then you should not expect me to read your mind without further clarification. If the real question is "describe the specific ideas of the enlightenment as presented by Locke, Diderot, Montesquieu, etc", then let me know. If not, then expect me to narrow my essay down in a way that suits me (and still answers the question).

4a. In other words, ask the question you want answered.

5. Riddle me this, Batman: Where is the logic in an assignment for a European History class that calls for an interview with someone who lived through an event in history? Logic would tell you that in a class such as this one with a group of 95% American students, most of them will probably interview an American. This presents a problem in a European history class. Even if a student chooses to write about a world event (WWII, for example), they will be doing it from an American angle. This is history that the class has not (theoretically) covered. Lame.

6. There are many more words I would like to say, but they would likely take my blog into R rated territory, and we don't want that, do we? Best keep it clean.


An enraged History Minor who is thoroughly disillusioned with BYU's History department and their lackies.

31 October 2007

To whom it may concern...

The Readers' Forum in the Daily Universe is the best thing on earth sometimes. It makes me so happy. It really does. People at this University are insane and the Readers' Forum is where all of the insane people live. It's brilliant. I love it.

Take today for example in a letter entitled "New convert's shock"

"Halloween time can be fun, no doubt (costume parties, candy, friends, etc.), but what's up with BYU's dark Halloween paraphernalia? I wonder if God's got the Celestial Kingdom decked out with scenes of dead decaying humans, witches, witch havens, magic potions, sorcery, skulls, brews and haunted skeletons? But BYU seems pretty at home with it this year.

Maybe God will even include Satan in masterminding Heaven's scariest haunted house - full of vile, sick and unimaginable horrors like "The Haunted Forest" promoted on the front-page of BYU's newspaper last week.

Isaiah 5:20-"Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."

Think I'm taking this a little too seriously? I dare you to research the truth for yourself. Read (and here the author lists many many scriptures to prove a point)...and then if you're real brave, research Halloween's actual roots. There's nothing "light," pure or holy about it.

Imagine Brigham Young and Joseph Smith visiting the BYU Bookstore, along with its large life-size wicked witch along with her wicked paraphernalia -presumably leftover human sacrifices.

Last time I checked, God wasn't real pleased with a witch (Exodus 22:18). So either God's saints have had their head in the sand a little too long or in their Harry Potter books - one or the other.

Don't believe a word I'm saying until you prayerfully review above sources."

For full coverage of this issue please follow this link to the Daily Universe website.

Oh goodness. Just when I thought my day couldn't get worse, someone made it infinitely better. I love my school! People here are so amazing. I feel like I am standing in the center of a web of bigots and liberals and people who get offended by everything or nothing or think that a date means marriage or don't date because men are dogs or women are clingy and I love the Readers' Forum!

I think this article more or less speaks for itself, but if I were to write a response to this well meaning student who is playing on every obnoxiousness...this is what I would say:

1. Leave your new convert status out of this. It has nothing to do with your argument, and it creates a bid for sympathy that is absurd. I understand frustration from converts who don't quite understand "Mormon culture" but Halloween shouldn't be new to you in or out of the church (unless you've been making friends with that sand).

2. Quoting scripture to defend yourself in this argument is not very sound, particularly because the meanings about these scriptures and the meaning of dressing up on Halloween are completely different. Last I checked, the bookstore wasn't trying to get people involved in human sacrifice...they're just decorating. If you're going to avoid the "appearance of evil" to an extreme that far, then you'll have to lock yourself in your room and close your eyes. Calm down. And look up the context of the scriptures before you quote them. Not to mention the etymology of words.

3. I'll pull an argument as lame as most of yours: President Hinckley wore a Halloween tie at his devotional last year when he spoke on Halloween.

4. Don't pull the 'origins of Halloween' argument. It's not well researched. And if that's the argument you're going to pull, look up the origins of Christmas too. (Here's a hint: your search could start with the word Pagan).

5. I'm pretty sure Joseph Smith and Brigham Young wouldn't have freaked about some decorations. They had bigger things to worry about. Like extremists.

6. Here's another shallow argument from me: Deseret Book stocks Harry Potter books. And Halloween books.

7. Did this author try to compare BYU to the Celestial Kingdom on earth (with flaws)? Goodness...I love BYU but if this is the Celestial Kingdom then I don't have much to look forward to. Except an eternity of Police Beats and Readers' Forum articles!

8. I'm pretty sure that most kids who dress up for Halloween probably have no idea what real witchcraft is. Heck, I'm pretty sure the author doesn't know what real witchcraft is. I'm also pretty sure that most kids who dress up like ghosts/witches/vampires/sorcerers etc. don't all become devil worshipers.

All this being said, I hope you all have an excellent Halloween being evil and massacring children with cleavers. I know I will.

10 October 2007

The Mostly-Imagined Real Wanderings of a Kindred Soul Abroad

For my post-study abroad writing class we're all working on essays. My project has turned into a kind of beast but I'm rather proud of it so far. I'm taking every day of the trip and picking one moment from the day or one image of the day or one scene of the day that is particularly strong in my head and writing just that one image. I've got my journals and photos and letters from the trip for help. So far I'm about 15 days in (more than 40 to go) and I'm at 13 pages. Yes. It's going to be a beast! So what I thought I'd do is send some of these (shorter) entries out into the void. They're rather rough, but I'm hoping that in a more refined state they might actually appeal to an audience outside of myself and those who went on the trip who can appreciate it for sake of the trip. So I now present my ramblings...

27 April 2007-En-Route between Edinburgh and Glasgow

I’ve always wanted to ride on a train. Not the dinky ones at amusement parks but a real train. There’s something so much more romantic about traveling by train than by plane or by car, because no one does it any more. Trains are for Victorian “Gibson Girls” with their puffed sleeves and showy good looks and pompadour hair and students going to school for magic or something and I’m in love with this train. A little disappointed, though. I wanted my own little sliding door compartment, not an industrial bit of every day transport full of businessmen just going to work.

But I’m saved. A lady in a uniform comes down the aisle asking passengers if they want ‘anything off the trolley’ and I am put right back into my contented state. Do I want anything off the trolley?! Do I ever want anything off that trolley! This is my chance! To do something quintessentially British! In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Harry goes out to the trolley of the Hogwarts Express wanting to buy a Mars bar. Granted, he gets magical candy that tastes like bogies, but I can’t ask for everything all at once. Thus, in honor of that boy-wizard friend, I proudly hand over my 60p and munch on the English equivalent of a Milky Way. Romance has been satisfied.

I try not to stare too much at the people on the train, but it’s hard because of the family with kids next to me. There are two boys playing with some kind of fantasy card game (Pokemon? I don’t know the difference. I should, I have brothers) and another little baby just starting to blabber a few words. All three of those boys are speaking with little hobbity Scottish accents. Two days in a row my anti-tourist campaign is shattered because I can’t pretend that I’m not totally entertained by these kids and completely envious of the life they lead. A life that is more or less exactly like mine but with the coveted Scottish accent attached to it, thus making it about a trillion times cooler. Theoretically, obtaining a Scottish or English accent of some kind would be my key to casting off the burden of tourism. I look British enough thanks to my ancestors. If I don’t say anything no one will no the difference, but I bought the Mars Bar so my birds have flown on this train. I wonder if the couple thought I was foreign before I spoke.

30 April 2007-Coach to Wasdale

I have fallen in love. Madly in love. With a biscuit. Not just any biscuit, though. Oh no. This is the most incredible biscuit in the world. Biscuit, biscuit, biscuit. It’s even fun to say. Anyone in the world who has tasted Scottish shortbread would have to agree with me or be utterly insane. Shortbread is brilliant because the full flavor takes you by surprise after you suck on the little cookie morsels for a little while. There’s a splash of buttery goodness and a twist of sugar and I don’t know what else but I can’t stop eating them. It’s such a half-guilty pleasure. I think somewhere in my psyche I imagine that everyone on the coach can see how many of these little shortbread fingers I’ve eaten and they’re all criticizing me for it. Earlier I was sharing with the girls closest to me, but they’ve all had their fill by now and I’m still peckish. So when I decide I want another one I kind of duck to the side with my forehead resting on the window and my body shielding the box. Then I slowly pull the box open. The hard part is pulling the plastic cookie-tray out because that makes noise when you reach through the plastic wrapper of the plastic holder. Then, one cookie after another, I indulge my way through about a quarter of the box. That’s the amazing and terrifying part of the power of a good shortbread cookie: once you start eating them it’s hard to resist another. And another. Eight or so fingers of shortbread later, I am content.

3 May 2007-Helvelyn

Do you know what happens when a gaggle of hot, sweaty, tired girls get together and hike a mountain all day and then find a pool of deserted, inviting, seductive water in the middle of a valley? I do. Some kind of time and space warp occurs and every girl there is transformed into a desert traveler who has not seen water in years. Clothes fly everywhere, screaming ensues, water flies, and there’s giggling. Lots and lots of giggling.

Not from me. I like my clothes where they are, thanks. And I don’t like hiking wet so I’m not about to jump in clothed either. Or even partially clothed. The water is cold. And dirty. And there are probably fish somewhere in there. Leeches. The Loch Ness monster. No no . . . ground is safer. I turn away from the splashing, riotous crew of mermaids to continue on my quest towards ruining the landscape. My colored pencils are out again and having a marvelous time forgetting about depth perception and shading. I have one hand around my waist to keep my shirt firmly in place, lest some knavish sprite come and take my by surprise and toss me in with the rest of the herd.

One by one our modest group of girls starts to give in at various levels of embarrassment and nakedness. Some keep their knickers on, others opt for something less clothed. I opt for clothes. I have no desire to jump in. It isn’t even so much the naked part of all this that bothers me. I’ve been in theater for years. Dressing and undressing in front of girls (or boys) isn’t exactly new. I’m comfortable enough with myself. I don’t think I’m ugly. It’s everyone else that makes me nervous. What if they aren’t comfortable with me observing them? Everyone’s so different. Rolls here and there, in and out of their underwear, swimming in the water, only sitting on the bank . . . they’re all different kinds of druidy goddesses of the earth and if I go over there I will stare. Not to be pornographic, just to wonder at how people can be so different, I suppose. To look at their bodies and think about mine and what it means to be short with long fingers and brown hair and blue eyes and round and flat and whatever else I am.

22 May 2007-Portsmouth

There are some days on the year when I simply cannot be responsible. Today is one of those days. I am surrounded by history. Naval museums are everywhere. The HMS Victory is planted in the middle of some concrete for people to tour. I could, theoretically, learn hundreds of new facts about British Naval history . . . or I could turn into a five year old and spend the entire afternoon prancing around ships for sake of goofy pictures and end the day in a ball pit at a children’s play place in a restaurant. Which is precisely what I do.

Evelyn and I are quite giddy when we see the empty play set. “Do you think-“ “Would they kick us out-“ “Is there an age limit-“ we half run through the exhibit on ship building and knot tying to the back of the restaurant where a deserted play place stands in all of it’s welcoming glory. A kind of ghostly music is echoing off of the padded walls and plastic slides, calling me forward. Who am I to resist fate? Every sailor knows what happens when you resist fate. Ask Odysseus. I either give in to the temptation in my rightful mind or get sucked in and turn into some kind of monster. Evelyn and I look at each other. The gauntlet is dropped. We race to drop our bags and grab our cameras and rip off our shoes (not necessarily in that order). “You take pictures of me, and I’ll get pictures of you!” “Ok!” Run, run, run-up, crawl through the tube (were they always this small?), climb up the ladder (mind your head!), stop for a picture (I love being five!)! In and out and up and pause (flash), go and switch places and your turn and bury me in the balls, and take that picture again my eyes are closed and I am definitely too big for that but I’m going to try it anyway and go through those ropes and slide on that zip line and this play place is the most incredible thing I think I’ve ever seen. One day when I’m old and overly responsible I may look back on my tryst through plastic-ball world as an opportunity lost and mourn that I could have toured many grand historical monuments but . . . well never mind. I won’t regret this.

24 May 2007- Fox Inn-Lulworth Cove

It has been a long day. Up at four in the morning. Be angry about being up at such an un-godly hour. Coach to Stonehenge. Admire Stonehenge. Take pictures with Stonehenge. Coach to Stourhead. Search frantically for Pride and Prejudice filming location where Elizabeth rejects Darcy in the new movie. Take 800 pictures of (and with) Pride and Prejudice filming location in various states of emotional discomfort and longing over Darcy. Coach to Marnhull church. Walk to Tess’ Cottage. Hike to Milton Abbey. Get lost alone in Milton Abbey. Sing songs alone in Milton Abbey while everyone else is being responsible and not lost. Drive with John who has found the lost wandering me to the Inn (get lost twice. His fault, not mine). Discover that I’m sharing a room with Liz which is happy. Discover that the room we’re sharing does not involve hauling luggage up stairs which is also happy. Discover that the room we’re sharing contains several very big fluffy pillows and the room provides tea. Brilliant.

Time to tell the staff of the inn what I want for dinner so that they can have what everyone wants. The options are chicken, vegetarian lasagna, a soup and trout. Brilliant again. I am in the southern part of England, now is the perfect chance to try nice fish since I’m too cheap to buy it for dinner elsewhere! I can let the program pay for my fish! I sign up for trout.

Dinner goes well. Good food, good friends, good talk through the starters. Then the main course starts to arrive. I wait with eager anticipation and several appropriate sea-shanties running through my head until placed before me is Captain Ahab. Captain Ahab is my dinner. He (I’m assuming his gender. I’m not up on fish anatomy) is fully scaled and still in tact with eyes and scales and tail and fins.

If I had a cleaver I would be able to quote A Christmas Story. (He’s smiling at me! Chop). But Captain Ahab isn’t smiling at me. He is accusing me. I don’t have the heart to eat him while he watches. It’s a little indecent. I take some of my left over salad and put it over his eyes. May he rest in peace.

Captain Ahab is completely disgusting and without flavor in revenge.

05 October 2007

Why I think Twilight is a piece of crap, OR The blog post in which an ingnorant person analyzes love

Most of that title is for effect. I'll explain:

In the last year or so, Stephanie Meyer's book Twilight has taken the girly world over. Ask nearly anyone about it and they'll do a string of things immediately. First; they'll profess undying love for a vampire. Second; they'll say that they don't normally read vampire books but this one is different. Third; they'll demand that you read the book, and (maybe fourth), proceed to give away almost the entire plot. So here's my analysis.

I read the first two and about half of the third in the series. Plot wise, the books are fairly interesting. I'm not usually one for popular teen fiction but a few of my friends told me I had to read them, so I picked them up. I actually enjoyed most of the first one. Granted, the book isn't very well written in some respects. It could use a serious edit. By the 800th description of how beautiful the hero was I wanted to chuck something heavy at the heroine, but other than a few quibbles it wasn't so bad. I didn't regret buying it. It was a nice distraction in the pre-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows mindset I had.

Then I read New Moon (the second book in the series) and part of Eclipse (the third) and realized that nothing had really happened. The interesting part about the first book for me was that the main character (Bella) seemed to have taken a risk. But after the initial risk in the first book, none of the characters seemed to change. It was pointless. The author stopped taking chances. It was so predictable and safe. The book could have gone down a route similar to Tuck Everlasting for instance, only it would have been (or could have been) even more significant because the age of the heroine has been upped about eight years. Rather than have a ten year old decide it isn't worth it to live forever, you have an immature eighteen year old consider for about half a second what the consequences of immortality as a vampire would be. Every time she considers it she throws the thought aside because she is so in love. Only I didn't believe it. Aside from the semi-interesting plot line, I never bought the story after a while. Edward was too good. I don't care how bloody beautiful he is or how noble he is, I'd be annoyed out of my mind by him if I really knew him. Seriously? He plays the piano. He wrote her a lullaby. He half stalks her. He is so darn over protective it's absurd. He never sweats. He has a nice car. Snore. I don't want a guy that perfect. It'd be obnoxious.

Going back to the love they supposedly have for each other, I buy their love about as much as I buy the love of Romeo and Juliet. Not at all. I'm sorry. It's just a little too surface for me. Whenever they see each other there will be some mad, gasping, clinging make out session. Maybe I'm just feeling particularly 'anti-touch' at the moment because I have three engaged roommates, but whatever Edward's and Bella's relationship is, it isn't one of love. It has no substance. Nothing to really fall back on outside of that fire they have during the books. If love is glue, then they've got a lot of glue but no paper to glue together.

And you know what? I don't think love is, or should be passionate all the time. What is a book like this teaching girls about the nature of love? I've heard girls say that Edward ruined other men for them. Ugh. How disgusting and superficial. This book would, if read in a certain way, teach girls that the Beatles were right when they said 'all you need is love'.

So here's what I think about love. You can all feel free to mock me if I ever turn into the person I despise one day, but from careful self analysis and in thinking about the relationships I've observed (fictional and otherwise), I know what kind of love I'm looking for.

You know the first day you realize the seasons have changed? When you wake up one morning and see that the leaves on the trees have turned red, or you have that first snowstorm? The first day you hear birds again or the day you pull out your shorts? That's the image I have in mind. I don't think romance has to be irrational and stupid. I think love is more like Darcy puts it in Pride and Prejudice-it comes on you slowly until one day you realize it, but you're already in the middle of it. It isn't like a movie with an orchestra-it's the day you realize that spring is back. It isn't that it hasn't been coming, it's that you finally register that it's back. You see the signs coming until the day you see it for what it is. It isn't new or unfamiliar because we've all been there before. We've all loved before. I think people expect love to be something grand or unfamiliar but it isn't. There's joy in it, of course-but there is also a comfortable kind of peace. I don't want fireworks. I want the crisp air of a fall morning. Something that feels so comfortable it's like curling up on a couch in your favorite pair of sweats.

31 August 2007

So apparently...

I blog like a boy. I found the Gender Genie and decided to check a few of my blog posts out, and they all (with only one exception) came back as male. Hmm. Interesting. Maybe I'll check out some of my fiction later and see what happens then. It's pretty funny though-this thing is supposed to be accurate. But then- My Heritage (that website that tells you your celebrity look-alike) is supposed to be accurate too but they give such random assortments as Anna Popplewell and Rachel Weiz to Gabriel Batistuda and Edward Teller. Yeah. I don't think that's exactly accurate...

The internet is a funny little place.

28 August 2007

What I did during Education Week...

The following are two little spats of England-style writing I did during Education Week-prepare yourself for nonsense. These are unedited stream-of-thought writing experiments.

22 August:

I'm ditching out on a class which is probably not a good sign since school hasn't started yet. I took one look at the crowded classroom and had a few thoughts consisting of "no way", "too many people" and "fire hazard". That would have been an interesting theory to test. Run into the room and yell fire. Instead I decided to do something else and now I'm writing nonsense on a piece of paper that was supposed to be filled with the key to getting my spiritual life back in order and my hand is cramped and I'm frustrated because I can't hand-write nearly as fast as I can type and this was so much easier (if more romantic?) than when I wrote on my computer, but for all that my cramped and awful writing is hardly romantic either. So there it is. I am solution-less. (What was the problem?)

Campus is a surreal kind of place this time of year. Normally this spot is crowded with people studying or making out or talking with friends only now it's just me and a mother with her two girls and none of us is studying or making out.

I just stopped. I killed my groove. I started staring off and thinking about unpacking and buying groceries since I have no food and how the JFSB courtyard is supposed to resemble the cloisters of places like Christ Church or Westminster and it kind of does only not enough to be a sanctuary and just enough to make me homesick (even though England is only my imaginary home now). If I ever go back it will probably only be for a few days or maybe two weeks but never for much longer and certainly not forever which makes me sad because I will never hike those moors again and all I want to do right now is pull my hair back, grab and apple when the hostel cafeteria staff lady isn't looking and hike 18 miles or so on the Pennine Way with 30 of the best people on this earth. England is all I can think about and dream about and it makes my writing redundant and my life unsatisfactory and I miss England. This cloister-knock off isn't English. It needs grass instead of stone, for one thing. And the table I'm sitting at shaded by an umbrella will have to go. Only stone benches. The fountain can stay but it will need to be less modern-arty and more Baroque. All the offices and classes need medieval-izing as well. All these trees in stone planters are way out (it's a little horrifying to think about). No. No-this place is nice but the vending machines don't have Cadbury and my purse has quarters and dimes in it and I have make-up on and I'm not in England any more and the trip I worked for and dreamed about and anticipated is gone in the blink of an eye. Two months ago today, actually, I was on an airplane. Absurd. I relate all the days now to what I was doing in England at the time. Life is supposed to be greener on the other side, but in this case it actually is.

August 23rd

I heard two girls in the Wilk today using very fake British accents and it made me mad. Considering that I could hardly claim to be an authority on all things British (though heaven knows I've tried), particularly with accents, I probably shouldn't talk but they were fake and I was offended and my thought was "I could do better". Pride. And there really is a difference between the movement and action and gesture habits between Brits and Americans. Something less of a strut and more poise...or maybe a different kind of strut (because there is definitely still a strut).

See. It's all I write about. I swear it's not all I think about-I think about many things. But turning on my writing brain seems to generate my England brain on auto pilot and once I start it's the death of me. I wish I could rewind and do it again. But it won't do to dwell on it. From where I sit now I won't ever get my fill of England. Unless I moved there and got a job and had to pay taxes and things-but I won't go back in the way I did and that hurts almost more than the thought of going back. Two weeks isn't enough! And the odds of really living there aren't really great. Maybe I'll go to grad school there.

I found out today that after two years my parents are dismantling my room and painting it and giving it to my younger brother. I think I'd have been alright with it if it had been my sister. She belongs to a room of girlish little dreams and goals and ambitions but now those dreams are being painted over and Wendy has officially been kicked out of the nursery. That part of my life is being packed away into boxes. I don't know if I even want to go home for Christmas because my room-my beloved room with the beautiful window and canopied bed-won't ever be mine again. It will have dirty moldy towels on the floors and footballs in the corners.

26 August 2007

I knew it!

You Belong in the UK

A little proper, a little saucy.
You're so witty and charming...
No one notices your curry breath

15 August 2007

It's a Marshmallow World...

In August?

Alright. Story time. I have a very boring job (that officially ends TOMORROW!) that involves me entering information into a computer all day. I talk to no one. I sit in my box and look at a screen all day. You kind of start getting the feeling that eventually you'll hit the right combination of keys on the keyboard and someone will run by and give you some cheese or a Scooby Snack. So I do any number of things to keep myself occupied throughout the day to forget how boring everything is. I munch on almonds and have a kind of routine that I keep-I listen to a movie in the morning on a portable DVD player with the screen down so I don't look like I'm watching instead of working-a movie I know really well helps pass the time rather quickly. I listen to music on my iPod on shuffle so I get a good mix of musicals and classical and more up-beat type stuff, and I listen to books on tape that I know really well (Harry Potter, Ender's Game), so that when I zone out and stop listening I don't get confused when I come back in. I change my music in and out fairly frequently so I don't start listening to the same stuff over and over and over again. So I was getting near the end of listening to Ender's Game and I decided to put Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on just in case I finished. I have all my books on their own playlist in itunes so that I don't have to have it on my iPod all the time-so I suppose you could imagine my surprise when about two hundred Christmas songs from my collection made their way on to my iPod. I was listening to songs on shuffle when all of the sudden I heard "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Andy Williams. I was completely confused. What in the-I hadn't added Christmas music! I love Christmas and all, but I don't listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving when I start putting up decorations and looking for trees. Shame on me though-I broke my rule and listened to nearly every Christmas song that came through in the shuffle because it was exactly the change I needed and put me in such a good mood that it didn't matter how ridiculous it was. Christmas music makes me so happy. It has a kind of smell to it-a sound and feel associated with every Christmas memory I've ever had. Like picking out the tree with my mom and driving around to look at lights-caroling in full Dickens-dress with the cast of the Hale's version of A Christmas Carol...walking home in the snow from work when it's just me and the street lights and feeling all romantic about it until I get home and realize my mascara's run and I look like a raccoon instead of the snow-queen I've imagined for myself. All the Californians who come to Provo in the winter can back off as far as I'm concerned. I love winter and I can't wait for snow.

09 August 2007

Because it is Discernible

I saw the latest attempt at Austen tonight (Becoming Jane) with my mom and my aunt. I was hoping that the movie would be great-mostly because I enjoy (almost) every Austen like movie. There was something lacking in this film though. I think I was hoping for some kind of cross between Finding Neverland and Sense and Sensibility or the latest Pride and Prejudice films-a film that is beautiful and trusts its audience to follow the trail. A film so breath taking that you feel literally sucked in by the scenery and forget you're watching a movie at all. A movie that, in a sense-breaks that fourth wall between screen and movie-goer. Becoming Jane made a very valiant effort at this-there was superb casting of the supporting cast and nice costumes-enough farm animals and woods to make it an official costume drama-but it was lacking. I didn't care. I know how the romance ended. The suspense of the romance wasn't enough for me. Granted, most people who see the film will know little of Austen's life and eat up the fictional with the reality-but as someone who does know a thing or two about Austen and has read the letters that this half true biography-made movie is based on...it was a little disappointing. For one thing it was hard to follow. The film was choppy-it suffered from horrible editing. I'd like to see the movie again just so I can pick up on what was going on for the first half of the movie when I didn't know which character was which. It felt like it was trying too hard at times-like when they had a montage of Jane walking through the ball looking for ...something or someone. You assume it's the love interest but we don't know the character the movie has created well enough to go beyond the assumption. There was very little character development.

This wasn't supposed to be a movie review. I'll cut to the chase.

The biggest thing that was lacking to me was the light I imagine in Austen's eye. She strikes me as the kind of person (at least from reading her books and her letters to her sister etc.) who has the idea that all of the people around her are there for her own amusement. She did not always have a happy life, but I feel like she would have been a lot more self assured and amused with life in general than she was portrayed as in the movie. Maybe it was just me being unable to get past the typically American performance from Hathaway-but I really think that there was a kind of light completely missing from Hathaway's eyes.

I've been thinking pretty seriously about the last semester or so of my sophomore year at school and a good portion of this summer about how depressed I've been. I haven't been able to force myself out of it. For whatever reason I have been miserable almost all the time. When I haven't been depressed I've been faking happiness. There aren't all that many times I can think that I have been truly happy in the last year. Most of it I think is due in part to me not being comfortable with myself. I lived with roommates last semester who always seemed to be doing better academically/socially/emotionally than me and I didn't know who to turn to. My two best friends had boyfriends and (this is my fault) because I didn't really take the time to go out and find people to get to know, my social life was almost nonexistent. As I said-this was mostly my fault. It was easier to stay in my room doing homework or reading a book or watching a movie on my own because they are all things that I enjoy doing. But I wasn't happy. I would have moments of real enjoyment but, thinking back, I think a lot of the light kind of dimmed in me on a more regular basis than normal.

So I've been researching light. Not so much in the scientific sense as the spiritual sense, especially in the scripture that talks about light being good because it makes things discernible. I suppose this relates to truth, in a way-in that all truth (however gruesome it might be) has an element of light in it. For the studying I've been doing, I've been focusing mainly on the topical guide in the scriptures and old talks logged away on lds.org-I've been surprised in this hodge-podge research on how many different ways the scriptures/leaders of the church have referred to light. They refer to it in reference to talents and truth and example and warmth and intelligence and the Savior and ourselves...so many different ways and they are all kind of related and not related at the same time.

This is too long, and you don't need to know all the details to my struggles or current mindset-it's all pretty personal and something I'm working out with the Lord-but if you get the chance read "The Light in Their Eyes" by James E. Faust from the October 2005 General Conference. It was an excellent talk and I've started to feel a little better about my situation and have some more hope for what the next year will bring for me. It's a great talk-read it.

01 August 2007

Everything I hate ....

About Mormon literature in one description.

We got our Deseret Book catalogue today (or rather, my parents did) and I happened to read this description:

The Bishop's Bride By Elizabeth W Watkins

"Andrew McCammon's stake president just gave him the two biggest shocks of his life. First, he is to be the new bishop of his ward. Second, he has three weeks to meet a woman, fall in love, and get engaged. What follows is the hilarious story of delightfully bizarre events that guide the right woman to him".


Ok, seriously?!! How does stuff like this get published?! I'm sure the author is a very nice woman and I wish her every happiness but-well, the word delusional comes to mind. My bet is that he'll find a girl that doesn't fit the mold, but then they'll fall in love and he'll see her differently and learn some very valuable lessons just in time. They'll enter wedded bliss just before the last petal falls and Mrs. Potts will sing their kids a lullaby while they dance.

Not to mention that I don't know of any Stake President putting a time slot on a person to get married. What's the Stake President going to do if he doesn't find the girl in three weeks? Excommunicate him? Not let him be Bishop? Good grief. Or, to quote Fred (I think it was Fred-) "Blimey, what a waste of parchment".

27 July 2007

Choking on the Bone

Welcome to my first post-Potter post in a while. And shockingly enough this post isn't really about Potter at all (shocking I know)-though, to be fair, it is inspired by a quote I read today in an interview with JK Rowling. She was talking about the major themes in the books and said something to the effect of how what she likes to look at in characters is what decent people do when they're frightened-and how much she values the virtue of courage.

When I was in England earlier this summer we got into lots of discussions on risk taking. I don' t really consider myself a risk taker-I think I've written about this before. I usually take the safe route. I stay in my room on weekends instead of going out to meet people more often than not.

I've had lots of interesting varied thoughts on courage and bravery today-I was listening to You've Got Mail today at work (I listen to movies while I enter information into a computer) and there's a line in there where Kathleen wonders if she is the way she is because she likes it or because she hasn't been brave. And then through a series of frustrating events I found myself back in that pit of depression that comes after I have a streak of ambition that I can't do anything about. I had so many great plans for myself after I came home from England-I felt as though I had really made some emotional progress. I was ready to take on the world and be the person I've wanted the strength to be-and then I got back and everything I wanted for myself blew up in my face in the space of about...72 hours. Give or take. I spent half the afternoon at work thinking about my summer and how I have gone from one extreme of feeling that everlasting yea to another feeling everlasting no (look up the reference).

But I've decided that I don't want to feel down any more. My last semester at school was miserable and I don't want this summer to be that way either. So after thinking about that quote and then reading Jo's interview, I decided to look up some quotes on courage to see if I could get a better definition of what it was. Because there are pretty varied definitions-the thesaurus lumps it up alongside words that don't necessarily feel like they would always go up next to each other-faith and recklessness for example. Coolness and certainty alongside aggressiveness and daring. In other words, the definition of courage is still a little up for grabs. Or at least what people associate courage with.

So I looked up some quotes on courage instead-since that is what I do-I'm a quote person. And I found a lot of good (if somewhat contradictory) quotes on courage. I found a few main themes though-for instance, most people agree that courage doesn't exist if there is no opposition. Simple enough. Some people point out that the best kind of courage exists in small doses in day to day things, and others talk of those who aren't afraid to stand on their own. Some say courage is the absence of fear, others say that courage is the conquest of it. I haven't fully come to my own conclusions on courage yet, but I'm hoping that further study/experience may gear me up to make the changes I want in my life possible in this next semester. In the meantime-chew on a few of these quotes and come to your own conclusions.

Alan Cohen: It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.

Buckminster Fuller: Dare to be naive.

Charles Dubois: The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.

Eleanor Roosevelt: You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

Teddy Roosevelt: It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

From a speech given in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1910

Winston Churchill: Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

And because I can't go one post without mentioning Harry...a week ago this very minute I was opening my copy of book seven. Chapter one, page one. Sad! I want that night back!

22 July 2007

"All was well"

General Warning: This post is about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. If you have not finished the book, get off the computer and go read it. Shame on you for being here. If you have finished, bravo: continue. Spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

This will be one of probably two posts on this book. I haven't quite digested it all yet-I want to re-read the book and take it all in before I really post. For now I think I'll address my predictions and general perceptions of the book.

I was pretty pleased with how well I did in predicting. And those things that I didn't get right I either couldn't have guessed (what the Deathly Hallows really were), or had logical explanations for (Harry as a Horcrux, Neville dying)-so I'll give myself a pat on the back. Because I can and because none of you are around to glare at me or roll your eyes at me for being such a snot.

Harry as a Horcrux was something I started to think about more seriously as the book went on so that by the end I was half convinced of it. Most of that was because of the way the locket behaved. The locket seemed to have a kind of life of its own. It reacted to what was going on. Why this spurred the thought I don't know-but I started to think that maybe the very reasons I thought Harry couldn't be a Horcrux also supported the theory, in a way. I hadn't considered that the connection between the two of them (Harry and Voldemort) would be a literal one, not just an emotional one. I also didn't think that Horcruxes could be accidents-the description of how they're made makes it sound as though it has to be fairly deliberate. But, there it is. It worked because it went the way Orson Scott Card predicted-he was able to live because he gave himself willingly and because of his love (he was thinking about Ginny. *peals of triumphant laughter). Speaking of sacrificial lambs-anyone else catch the blatant Christian symbolism? I hope so.

Neville living worked out for me too-even though I was completely convinced of him dying right up to the end. I liked that he had a pretty good handle on himself in this book. He was able to really come into his own-and even killed the snake which was excellent. Horray for Neville! I'm glad that the six DA-Ministry people from the fifth book are still in tact.

I like the shades of gray Jo brings up in the book. The Malfoys aren't really evil or good. They don't fight on either side, because they decide that they value their family more than anything. I liked shading Dumbledore's past too-it made him more human. And it gave room to bring Harry above his hero (hooray for the hero's journey!)

I liked that Harry didn't end up killing Voldemort directly in the end. It keeps him pure and is another way that pulls Harry above Dumbledore.

Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione at the end. I think I died of cuteness. Freaking adorable! And bittersweet too. Lots of this book seemed almost self-indulgent to me on Jo's part-certainly necessary for the plot but also a little of her just needing to say good-bye. I thought it was sad to see Harry say good-bye to Privet Drive-an acknowledgment of how far he has come from being this kid who finds out he's a wizard one day to this. I thought the end was symbolic too-Harry sending his boy off to school-the circle comes back. And ending it at a train station where it all began-not just for us, but for Jo as well. Beautiful. Only this time, Harry's surrounded by his family and friends-and, as Jo says-there has been peace for 19 years. If Ron's learning to drive a Muggle car then things have to have improved in wizard/Muggle relations.

The symbolism of the houses was still there in the Horcruxes too-another thing that made me incredibly happy. Thanks to Harry being tied with Gryffindor, that is.

Snape/Lily was interesting to me-something that I hadn't really wanted, really-mostly because in the fan fiction world every Maurader-era fic typically revolves in which Maurader/Snape is in love with Lily and it gets on my nerves because it feels so Mary-Sue. The only one I ever found interesting was the Snape/Lily idea, but I had issues seeing it until Jo explained it better. I hadn't ever seen Snape as most people write him-someone poisoned by forbidden love who turns into a Muggle-hater because James got there first-it was too simple. Too typical. Having him like Lily but still have issues with the Muggle-born thing made him more interesting. It was excellent and tragic all at once. No wonder he hates Harry right off the bat-imagine seeing your enemy's child-the perfect reincarnation of the enemy with your lover's eyes? Talk about insult to injury. The eyes of a person are so much more difficult than a nose or mouth or something. Harsh.

Did anyone catch blatant world war two references? Yikes. Creepy. Some of this book gave me chills it was so disgusting. Having to prove your relations? Muggle Studies turning into a kind of Hitler-Youth thing? Yikes. All the way around, yikes.

The book was so symbolic at times it was ridiculous. This book, of all of them, felt like it was important to us, considering the state of the world. One line that hit me was at the end of the fifth chapter when Hermione says "Harry, he's taking over the Ministry and the newspapers and half the Wizarding world! Don't let him inside your head too!" (pg 85, US). Well. Call me obsessive for trying to make everything in this world relate to my many fictional ones but that one doesn't seem so far fetched. Sunday school lessons on dealing with the devil anyone?

Well, I'll be back with more after I've fully digested everything-but it's been an incredible ride, hasn't it? I pulled my copy of book one off my bookshelf last night after finishing the book and flipped through the pages. We've come a long way. It's hard to imagine, really-hard to fathom over. It's been amazing. Jo-there aren't words to express how I'm feeling right now. My sincerest thanks.

14 July 2007

Broken Record

I said I'd be back with more Harry Potter movie reviewing but after reading Orson Scott Card's review of the movie I don't feel the need to, since the man has (and much more eloquently than I could, I might add) said exactly what I wanted to say. So rather than give a more in depth viewing of the movie analysis after my second time around, I'm going to do what we did through all of England on our study abroad: synthesize everything. Or bobbette everything if you want the other vocab word.

I learned in England not to go anywhere without paper, especially to plays and movies and concerts and things because if I didn't have a notebook handy I'd forget what I wanted to say. It's easy enough to make those notes in classes or on campus-or other places when there aren't stories to follow but seeing plays without a notebook is hard-there's too much going on to remember that one line that you liked or the one scene that touched you. As a result, I've written down the lines that got to me in one way or another when I watched the movie today.

Like OSC says, it's interesting how intelligent this movie is. There's so much there to consider. This movie touched me in ways the book didn't. The book is so laced with humor that, at times, I don't know if I really felt the seriousness of the situation. Or the cruelty. Seeing is different than reading though-I'm thinking particularly of two scenes that were in the book. The first is the detention scene with Harry-that first one when you first see Umbridge's satisfied smile and the words being etched on Harry's hand. Goodness...you know, I love Umbridge as a character. she's a brilliant villain. Reading her makes me admire Jo's ability to create two toned characters that are both humorous and villainous-really meaty characters you can sink your teeth into. But seeing her made me feel sick inside. That scene unnerved me in ways that it didn't when I read it. Maybe this is because I'm thinking more about becoming a teacher and have all these massive ideas on what public education should be-but hearing Umbridge tell Harry that "you know deep down inside you deserve to be punished"-ugh. The other scene was seeing Trelawny be sacked. A good portion of this is probably because the director decided to take the scene seriously-I seem to remember it being slightly comical in the book-but Emma Thompson is so brilliant that seeing her half trip over her suitcase made that sick feeling come back. Harry is right when he tells Hermione that whatever "this" is, it isn't simple.

These books are much more complex than people give them credit for. Yes, they're housed in the children's section, but they don't deserve to be any more, I don't think. Or people should stop thinking of them simply as children's literature. Like it's degrading. Think of how many incredible children's books there are out there that teach really powerful, deep lessons-much better than any serialized romance or crummy thriller you'd find in the regular Fiction section. Charlotte's Web and Bridge to Terabithia, for example-they deal very seriously with what it is to have friendship and what it means to face death. The Giver. Tuck Everlasting. The Boxcar Children. All these books about children who are faced with really serious situations and decisions-whether or not to drink a water that will make you live forever or face death-how to survive without parents-and we shun them as books that don't make children think? Make people think? Harry Potter is no different. People shun them aside as children's literature in the worst sense of the phrase because they are fantasy and involve children-but these books make people think in ways that I would wager more than half the books in the fiction section at Barns and Noble could.

This movie brings some of those themes out-I definitely left the theater both times with things to consider. Take two of the lines from the movie for example-Umbridge telling her class that they'll learn about defense in a "secure risk free environment" and Sirius saying "what's life without a bit of risk". We had lots of discussion about risk on our study abroad. I'm not a really risky person. I am, in a way since I do theater-every audition is a risk-but I don't really see it in that way any longer because it's something I just do. So what are they saying about risk? Because neither way is really the right way. Living life without risk or too much risk isn't what Jo is promoting here-or the film for that matter. We see where Sirius and Umbridge end up. Where is the medium?

The movie did some really great things with developing Harry's character that I loved particularly. The scene at the end when he gives his speech to Voldemort (kind of reminded me of Moses 1 in the Pearl of Great Price...was that blasphemous?)-at the end of it he says "I feel sorry for you (Voldemort)". After all he's been through, afraid that he's becoming his enemy-he expresses sorrow for him. It's Frodo admitting he feels bad for Smeagol/Gollum. Brilliant. The other bit I really liked was Harry's speech on how all the greatest wizards were children once-and if they can do it, then so can the DA. I love that because I love thinking about the power of youth. I think lots of this is because I felt so much more grown up than I was when I was younger. My emotions were very real to me. I wanted to be taken seriously. So when I see kids doing what I wanted to do-create a symbolic DA of sorts and be able to fight against adults and win-I get really excited. It's why I loved Matilda so much. It isn't bashing on adults-it's not denying the feelings and emotions and intelligence of children, who really do understand much more than most people give them credit for because we're told to sugar coat everything.

Spiritually the part of the movie that touched me most was the idea that Harry has where he thinks he's becoming Voldemort. I think we're a little too hard on ourselves as members of the church sometimes. We really are a bunch of transcendentalists, in a way-there's a lot of emphasis on perfecting yourself. I think we sometimes get really focussed-or at least I do-on what it is we're doing wrong. Because we focus so much on these things we aren't good at, I think we assume that God does too. But I think we give ourselves too little credit. Dumbledore says it later in the film-it isn't what makes us like (Voldemort/Satan)-it's what makes us different. It's the times when we do live up to our own expectations, and succeed. It's when our intentions are pure. We focus so much on exactness that we forget mercy-we forget that God wants us home more than anything.

Anyway. That's enough Harry Potter for now. Good grief-it's all I blog on now. Mostly this is because I don't have anything else of interest going on. I don't want to write about how stressful selling my contract is because then I'd have to think about it some more.

My sister was baptized today-it's crazy because I remember when she was born and thinking I would be twenty when she got baptized. That's pretty old for a twelve year old. I remember thinking I could be married or dating someone at that point (so much for that)-and here it is. It was a pretty emotional day. I won't go into all the details or the background on it, but it was incredible to see her. There was a baby picture of her in the program right next to one of her now-forgive me while I wax sentimental for a second-I love my family. Having everyone in my family together is something of a luxury now with me at school most of the time and my brothers always out with friends and my dad with work and...it's a rare occasion. We've been through the mill as a whole family in the last few months with problems that don't need to be shared with the world, but let me just say that seeing my family come together today really reminded me of how it can (and should) be-and how grateful I am for the gospel.

11 July 2007

Two thumbs up. And a wand.

I don't have time to give the whole review now-partly because I have so much reading to do and only a bit of time to do it before I go to bed. I've got about two days left to finish Order of the Phoenix if I want to keep on schedule and yesterday put me behind. Not that I didn't get my dose of it anyway. I'd like to wait until I see the movie again before I do a full review anyway. This review will, therefore, be somewhat scattered and random.

1. FINALLY a director that knows what he's doing. The transitions worked so well. How do you condense an 870 page book into a two hour and fifteen (ish) minute movie? That's about the same length as the Prisoner of Azkaban film. Well, for starters, you pick one part of the storyline and run with it. Which is what he did. Order of the Phoenix has lots of detail in it-detail that is necessary in a complex book but not as necessary in a less complex/wordy venue such as a film. The details that needed to be there were kept. Those that weren't were scrapped.

2. Screenwriter-I'm in love with this man. It's about time someone realized that the dialogue Jo creates is good the way it is. So many of my favorite one liners made the cut! Horray!

3. The movie stands on its own, but still gives plenty of nods to those of us who comb through the books-the scene in the underground with Mr. Weasley. Kingsley and Tonks-you know who they are if you haven't read the books, but those of us who have appreciate that they are there. I disagree with Liz on this-on Kreacher as well. It would have broken suspense and taken too much time to develop his storyline at this time. Besides-I get the feeling that Kreacher's importance isn't so much in this fooling of Harry as it is in book seven, but I guess we'll see later on. Jo reads over these scripts and as far as I'm concerned, she wouldn't let them do anything really drastic.

4. Luna! I disagree with Liz here too-Luna was funny and profound at the same time. It was perfect, because she is that way in the books too. Really-a lot of what she says in the books is quite profound, but it's masked with humor. Still though-she's a Ravenclaw. She's smart. And you get the feeling that she really lives in her own world. She doesn't care what people think of her, but she's not bitter about it in the way some people are.

5. Ginny-she rocks. Period.

The movie just felt like a movie. It didn't feel like it was joking around, it felt like it was taking itself seriously. Like the people who made it really wanted it to be good film-wise, not just good in the Harry Potter verse.

I thought the cuts they made were decent cuts. The business with expanding on the prophecy for example-all of that is necessary in the book because Harry's character is developed more. So much of five is internal that Harry needs to have all the extra stuff about the prophecy being important because Voldemort makes it important, and Dumbledore having heard it but-really-do we need it? Not really. Not in the film-verse. Because for the film-going crowd this is the Empire Strikes Back. This is Luke being like-ok. I know I've got to fight the bad guy now and destroy him. No, it isn't as meaty or as developed as the book is, but it's all you need. Anyway-I'm going to see the movie again and come back with more.

For now just don't try and argue with me. I'm sick of all my friends whining about what wasn't in the film. Come on, people. Get over it. I was surprised at how faithful they were to the book in the end. As opposed to the other films, more of this film came strait from the book.

In brighter less annoyed news-only ten days until seven comes out!

10 July 2007

Double Feature (and a little extra)

These last two Scholastic questions are a little ridiculous, so I'll be brief. Or as brief as I ever am. Then I have to reply to Ebert's review of the fifth movie (and give my token guide to watching the movie lecture).

Question six: Will Voldemort be defeated?

Seriously? Ok. Fine.


Know what that number is? That is (according to my calculator and the numbers The Lexicon gave me) the number of words contained in the first six books of the series. This isn't including the number of words in the school books, the interviews, or (presumably) the correct number of words for the books when published in other languages (or even the Brit/American versions). I'm assuming that the word count is probably from the US versions and since those are the versions most of us read on this side of the pond, that's the number we'll use. The next book will (judging by the length of four and six) be somewhere around 170,000 more words-easily putting the number of words in the series past a million.

And they are telling me that after all of this reading and re reading and agony over waiting (for five especially) that the point of the books would fail? Good grief.

Yes. Voldemort will be defeated. Otherwise we've all wasted so much of our time. Seriously-if, theoretically, Harry dies and Voldemort lives than what is JKR saying? This whole time she's been saying that good will conquer evil in the end, and that our choices determine our fate, and etc. etc. etc. and if all that is reversed...what a lame question. Boo on Scholastic. I should have expected it though-I've never been really impressed with Scholastic's take on the books. Mostly because they gear their questions and trivia contests towards the 9-12 year old range of readers (which they shouldn't at this point-but that's another soap box for a little later on). Scholastic drives me nuts with the lack of research they do. But then-I research to absurd degrees because I'm strange like that. This is why I wrote so many trivia questions myself for the last Potter Party I worked at Barns and Noble.

I've left my point. The question, I guess, isn't so much whether or not Voldemort will die, or just be sent to wallow. Dumbledore talks about how there are fates worse than death and that he fails to recognize this, but because he is so afraid of it, and because he has already done the "undead" thing before, it's time for him to die. Shockingly, (or maybe not), this is the one question that people seem to agree on with intelligence in the poll-80% or so say that he'll die. Bravo. Now to deal with the randomness in the other half of the 'who will live/die' poll where the same 80% say that he'll live. (eh?)

Question Seven is "What are the Deathly Hallows". I'm pretty sure I went into manic detail on this earlier on when the title was released...the difference between 'hallows' and 'hollows' and all. This question is another kind of lame one because it's something that is almost unguessable. It's the whole point of book seven, really-discovering what they are. If we knew much about them already then the point of seven would be half lost. I would bet that "Deathly Hallows" probably has a double meaning from what we know now-hallows can be places, nights/events (Halloween, for example), or things. My favorite description is one from the Lexicon-they point out that 'deathly' is sometimes used synonymous with 'deadly' but that more often it is used in reference to something that is subject to death as opposed to something that inflicts or causes death. The ancient use of 'hallows' was in reference to relics of saints. They believed that the saints themselves were housed in the relics-a fairly decent connection between Voldemort and the Horcruxes. But it's all speculation at this point, because finding out about the Horcruxes and where they are is the point of the next book.

So Ebert gave a rather ridiculous review of the movie-mostly because he's shocked about how dark it is...sigh. Fortunately for anyone who has read the book, the review should be a screaming endorsement of the movie, because between the lines he more or less confirms that the movie has been true to the tone of the book, which is very dark. JKR said in an interview once that the book had to be dark, and that ”...A psychologically plausible child would have been institutionalized by now, having gone through all this. He’s suffered and tolerated so much.’ “ (The Leaky Cauldron, 10 July 2007)

So in other words, the movie should be great. It has the highest rating a Potter film has ever had on Rotten Tomatoes. I was reading through comments on one of the posts at Rotten Tomatoes forum on the movie and heard probably the best piece of advise on watching the movie ever-don't spend all your time looking for what isn't there. Enjoy what is there, don't even try the 'it ruined the book' line (the book will still be there), and if you're anything like me, bring a hankie. I'm such a wimp.

Now that I'm done with the Scholastic questions, I think I'll move on to just random book commentary...I'm in the middle of re-reading five and I'll read six next week-I want to do a post on education theories after reading some of Umbridge again (quotes on how the ministry system of education doesn't allow for people to voice opinions on things they don't know about...etc).

But that's going to have to wait. Because I have a ticket at the IMAX with my name on it. And I'll sit in the back row so the kid behind me doesn't vomit all over again. That was nasty. Nothing will get in the way of my enjoying Harry Potter mania while I still can.

Oh boy. I'm such a nerd...it's a good thing I learned to accept the fact...

06 July 2007

Where, oh where have the horcruxes gone?

The fifth question posed by Scholastic is "Where are the Horcruxes?". I'm going to use this as a small excuse to expound on some of my more brilliant Voldemort and Snape insights ;)

First of all, one thing Jo mentioned (or rather, hasn't mentioned) is the significance of the look Dumbledore gets on his face after Harry comes out of the maze in book four-after Harry has related the story of the graveyard to him in his office. Harry tells him that Voldemort took some of his blood and then Dumbledore gets a look of triumph on his face. We know it's significant (see numerous evasive interviews), but she hasn't explained why. Here comes the brilliant insight-Voldemort having Harry's mother's blood running through him does allow him to touch Harry-but it does also give him traces of that love he despises so much. He's taken into himself some of the power that destroyed him in the first place. Wouldn't that make him easier to kill the second time around? He is both strengthened and weakened by the stuff...

As for Snape (I was listening to the end of book 4 at work today), I think I have further proof as to why he would be on the good side. It's at the end when Dumbledore and Fudge are having their spat about whether or not Fudge should get rid of the dementors/admit Voldy is back/etc. when all of the sudden Snape rips back the sleeve of his robes and shoves the Dark Mark into Fudge's face in an attempt to convince him to take Dumbledore's advice. Why would he do that if he was on Voldemort's side? It wasn't necessary, really. He didn't need to prove to Fudge that he was on the good side, Fudge already believed it. So did Dumbledore. It was a blatant attempt on his side to convince Fudge that Voldemort was back. Why would he do that if he was on Voldemort's side? Having Fudge live in denial is what Voldemort wants-it's why he lays low for virtually all of book five. If Snape was working for Voldemort or intending to turn to his side again, why would he do such a thing?

Anyway. Onward and upward.

Horcruxes. Interesting things, aren't they? Kind of morbid. What do we know about them (or think we know-Dumbledore could be wrong)-there should be seven total (including the one still in LV)-two are destroyed (ring-representing his pure blood ancestry, and diary-representing his years at Hogwarts). That leaves four tokens left, plus the big man himself. Some people suspect that there are more than this, but I doubt it. Jo has said that she considers 7 a 'powerfully magical number'. It's symbolic in many ways-eight just doesn't have the same weight. So laboring under the assumption that there are four (plus one) left for Harry to destroy, and Dumbledore was right about the cup and the locket-we've got two variables.

Dumbledore suggested that he thought Nagini might be an interesting option for a Horcrux, but I doubt it somehow. Voldemort does have curious control over her, but he is like that with most people that aren't horcruxes-and it seems so unlikely that he would put his trust in putting a horcrux in something that's living and has the capability to get away from him (even if the chance is small). It just doesn't feel right. Nagini is a mortal snake-it does not seem likely that he would place a bit of his soul into something that could die. Not to mention the significance of having the remaining four horcruxes come from the houses of the founders-it ties together the significance of the school rather nicely. Besides-one of the most important parts of the hero's journey is the part where the apprentice overcomes the master-it happens when Frodo is able to destroy the ring and Bilbo/Isildur couldn't-it happens when Luke is able to overcome the Emperor/Vader when his father/Obi wan (respectively) were not. It's an important part. Harry has to discover some of this on his own. Which is why I hold to the theory that we have the locket (Slytherin's, and either at Grimmauld still or scattered by Dung-the prat), the cup (Hufflepuff's-the location is not known, but the cup is said to have some magical powers of it's own that we don't know about).

Is Harry a Horcrux? No. No. No. Orson Scott Card has a really interesting theory in favor of this that seems rather interesting-it would be symbolic for Harry to be able to survive and destroy the horcrux inside him with the love that runs through him-but I don't agree any more. That symbolism can be achieved in other ways. It just doesn't seem likely. The little we know about how Horcruxes are made works against it. We know they are created with murder. We know that it is very deep, dark, difficult magic that is deliberately done (wow. consonance). Voldemort would not have been in any state to do so after he tried killing Harry the first time. And then there is the issue of Voldemort trying (unsuccessfully) to kill him five times now (when he was a baby, with the philosopher's/sorcerer's stone incident, in the Chamber of Secrets, in the graveyard, at the Ministry). Why would he kill something he's put a horcrux in? And then there's the question of love inside Harry-how could a piece of Voldemort's soul live inside Harry when he is so full of love for various people-the Weasley's....Ginny, Hermione, Sirius, Dumbledore, his parents...etc. etc. etc.? Voldemort can't stand to possess him long when they're in the Ministry-it doesn't seem likely that a piece of his soul could either. He could have unwittingly put one in Harry but...no. Just ...no.

So where are they? Well-let's think of what we know.

We know that one was in Hogwarts already (the diary). We also know that it wasn't put there by Voldemort-it was brought there by Lucius via. Ginny. We (think) we know that the locket is (or was) at Grimmauld Place. So while I think it's safe to assume that most of these remaining bits of Voldemort's soul will be in the place he intends them to be, it is possible that we will come across them in insignificant places (or places that they weren't intended to be). I would venture a guess that there is another Horcrux in the Hogwarts area-Hogwarts was so important to Voldemort it would seem a little ridiculous not to have one there-granted Dumbledore has probably done some searching, but he's been wrong before. The Riddle House was a murder location/his father's home/his temporary home at the beginning of book four-there could be one there. What about the orphanage itself? What other places were particularly important to Voldemort before he tried to kill Harry? It feels like we still need information about him before we can make that assessment. His life is still pretty sketchy. He worked at Borgin and Burkes for a while but I wouldn't bet on one being there-too likely that it would be sold by the greedy shop owners. Though he could have hidden it fairly well. I would also bet that there could be one somewhere in Gringotts- I don't know how special/significant this would be in terms of Voldemort's past, but it is supposed to be the safest place to keep something next to Hogwarts, and we learned a ton about it in book one that has been virtually ignored since then. It would be a pretty brilliant place to store a horcrux. It has a built in security system. There isn't a ton we can do with this information based on what we know of Voldemort's past-I think most of this will just have to wait for discovery in the next book...which is two weeks away! I will have it in my greedy little hands two weeks from now exactly. Scary.

While I'm on this track-a word of warning to you all (wherever you are)-our local paper published yet another reminder of how awful Death Eaters can be (some people call them 'the worst sort of Muggle'...I like to be a little more mean)-be wary of those who would spoil the book for you if you care. Avoid the internet, television, radio etc. until you've finished the book. People will do nasty things like make up login names revealing the dead characters/shout who dies out loud to people in the bookstore/make signs/t-shirts...everything. It's horrible. Granted, this book is fraught with death so I doubt any nay-sayers will be able to ruin everything but all the same, I plan to go armed with headphones and really loud music to escort me away from the bookstore and back to my bedroom, where I will proceed to barricade myself with some popcorn and Dr. Pepper for company (and maybe a chamber pot to save myself time...only joking)-until I have safely finished the book and my emotional purge. I didn't think such a thing would be necessary until the newspaper gave every obnoxious teen in my town the idea, but there it is. I'm not taking any chances this time. Blinders on-earphones in-eyes on the prize. You have been warned.