Sunday, July 31, 2011

Harry Potter & Philosophy

It's been a week and a half since I saw the last Harry Potter movie and I'm still failing to feel any sense of nostalgia or even closure. Am I the only one?

I was talking to two non-Harry Potter people (Muggles?) today about whether you could find philosophy in any movie and Harry Potter in particular. First, I came up with the topic of free will vs. determinism, particularly starting in Order of the Phoenix with Harry learning about the prophecy. There's all these questions raised of whether Harry ever had a choice in the matter of killing Voldemort, which leads to questioning whether any of us have a choice in any given situation. Are we just reacting to past events and dealing with things in the way we've adopted and adapted from our life experiences?

I'm not about to outline all the interesting frameworks J.K. Rowling presents for thinking about these questions--that might take a while--what I wanted to say was how interesting it is to talk to people rationally about Harry Potter when they are obviously not as invested as we are.

It's like trying to explain unschooling to a hardcore conventional educator; they might humour you, depending on their personality and temperament, but they won't truly get it, and maybe they can't. And maybe it's better that way.

On one hand, I want this magic to be shared, for everyone to feel like I've felt. On the other, I have this idea that it's never going to be the same for other people and that exclusivity makes it more special. As much as I want to believe that 'there is no them, only facets of us'* sometimes I feel like there has to be an outside for there to be an inside. I'm working on questioning that belief, I am, but for now, I'm going to continue loving Harry Potter with the other people that do and smiling knowingly (though as non-condescendingly as possible) at those who don't.

Now I just need to make time to reread the entire series. Maybe that will jump-start the nostalgic palpitations.

* John Green, not sure how close to his quote that is.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

On being awkward, pre-internet.

As I was watching the VidCon stream an hour ago, listening to George Watsky talk about not momentarily crowd-surfing at a Sum41 concert sometime in 2003, and how the internet has provided hundreds of thousands of awkward nerds with access to a brilliant and thriving creative community, in which he could finally crowd-surf with no feelings of self-consciousness, I started thinking. About what it would be like to be an awkward nerd in 2003, or 1963, or any period in time that isn't the very near past, and how fortunate I am to be living right now.

It's no secret that everyone is awkward for at least some of their adolescence (or the majority of it), and presumably this has been going on since virtually the beginning of time. Speaking as the person I am (i.e, maybe I'm exaggerating but this is only because I can't imagine myself with the influence of the internet removed), I don't know how I'd be progressing through my (increasingly) awkward years if I were 16 in 1963.

Because I enjoy the mid 20th century like other people might enjoy golfing or fantasy novels, I'd like to think I know enough about 1963 to accurately place myself in it. Most of America was still pretty damn racist, and the women's rights/gay rights/hippie movement wasn't in full force yet. Maybe my parents would have raised me so that my personality would be different, but mostly I'm picturing a lot of time spent at libraries and record stores and with adults scolding me for not being overtly feminine. And it's not exactly my idea of a good time. I'd definitely be protesting like hell as a legal adult in the latter half of the decade, but the requisite awkward years seem just that, awkward.

I realize I would probably attach myself to whatever subculture presented itself to me--beatniks most likely. But that's just that: a subculture. A(n admittedly close-knit) group of people, looked down upon by the majority so that they feel compelled to isolate themselves into small minority groups instead of demanding acceptance by the general public. Whereas now, via the internet and whatever else has made nerds bolder over the years, we can demand that acceptance. I can publicly declare my love of Harry Potter and Doctor Who and old bands and fattening food and liberal politics and so forth. I could tell you I'm naked right now. (Which, for the sake of accuracy, I am not currently. But I could be and that's what counts.)

**Note: I subscribe(d) to a particularly romanticized version of the years 1950 through about 1979, the earlier half heavily shaped by Grease and the general old-timey rock'n'rollness about the era. As a twelve year old who thought she was cool for liking non-contemporary music, I even repeatedly expressed my desire to be alive then. I am officially (as officially as a blog post can be) taking that back for reasons mentioned above. Also because that's kind of hipstery and pretentious, but, live and learn, what can you do.**

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I like my books like I like my men. . .

. . .naked.

("my men", in the hypothetical sense, not the actual. This little clarification definitely distracts from the incredibly hooking title and opening, but oh well.)

On the rare occasion I splurge on hardcover books (instead of waiting for a year until they come out in paperback and are thus cheaper, or pulling the ultimate cheapskate move and waiting until they're at the library. . .), once I've read the plot summary on the inside cover and the reviews on the back cover and whatever pretty picture occupies the front cover, I really see no use in the glossy paper jacket that encompasses the book itself.

I have quite a few of them tucked away*, in case I am struck by the glory of the cover art once again and feel the need to admire it on its own, but once I've purchased the book, it no longer has a purpose. The book doesn't need to advertise itself to me anymore, reading it with the jacket attached is often annoyingly slippery (especially in the awkward positions I usually read) and requires extra care to ensure that I don't rip it or bend it in any way (making them not exactly ideal for carelessly shoving into a bag or backpack. . .), and I love the minimalistic sense of the book without it. The smooth cardboard, simply embossed with metallic lettering on the cover and spine. . . there's a real proper private library quality to them. The way I picture a cozy room in a large house in the English countryside, possibly a fireplace, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with books, each with a few dignified cracks in the binding from multiple readings instead of a crumpled and faded slip of paper covering them.

I honestly have no idea the point I'm trying to convey here; maybe I'm just being overly romantic.

* Including the jackets from the last two Harry Potter books. In moments of weakness I've considered buying the other five in hardcover, however unreasonable this may be, just to do this to them and to have a complete set of one binding or the other. (Though it would definitely be more practical, if I did do this, to buy the last two in paperback.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Was writing this on my list of things to do?

Hey! What's a picture of me doing on here? This isn't Tumblr!

To the left of me is a long list of books that I plan on reading. I intend to cross them off as a I finish each one to give me a sense of accomplishment. To the right is an bullet-pointed plan of the rest of my summer, containing such helpful and detailed plans such as "running" and "job?"

I like lists. They're encouraging; a scribbled out phrase to remind you that you have, indeed, done something with your day/year/life. The problem is that I very rarely stick to my lists. Once they're written, I already feel like I've accomplished something: I have a schedule, so of course I have time to watch just one or twenty more clips of JKR interviews... The satisfaction is worth it, though. A totally completed to-do list? Rare perfection.

Really rare, though. I have... let me count... seven variations of to-do lists saved on Word, each with increasingly desperate titles ("To Do,""To do this summer," "TO DO!!"). Opening them up, I appear to have totally completed about... zero of them. My life is a sham. However, I am currently power-reading through Madame Bovary -- a book that I find strangely yet thoroughly relatable, given that a fair number of people who read it apparently hate the main character -- so perhaps I have found my motivation after all. I find that suddenly realizing you're about to start your last year of high school and will be a legal adult in friggin' less than a year is a pretty good wake-up call.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Emotional growth in 4 years? Preposterous!

I have a story:

At the release of Deathly Hallows, my mom picked up my pre-ordered copy without me. I don't know how or why I allowed this to happen, but it did. She was asked if Snape was good or evil, and, being clueless, answered that he was good. I wound up with the book and a sticker that said "Trust Snape".* I was furious. At first my anger was directed towards my mom, insisting she should have called me and asked my personal opinion so as to ensure accuracy. (Even though she didn't know a sticker depended on her answer... oh, faulty 12 year old logic.) Then, being a really indignant little shit about the whole ordeal, I defaced the sticker itself. (Very ineffectively; blue pen on glossy purple paper doesn't show well, for future reference.) At the end of my graffiti spree, it read something like "don't ever disTrust Snape (not)", which, although a confusing triple negative, still worked.

**It still amazes me that the proposed trust of a fictional character's fictional actions cold have inspired so much rage in me, regardless of if it was juvenile and impotent. I like to think I've mellowed out considerably.**

Surprisingly, (I'm sure my 12 year old self would hate me for this) the only time I cried during the movie was The Prince's Tale. I've seen the movie twice, and this has happened twice. (three times on Friday, many more times after that. I have a feeling this is going to be a recurring thing.) Maybe I've developed sympathy for Snape and am sorry for being an indignant little shit years ago (sound like anyone else?), maybe Alan Rickman is the actor's equivalent of God Almighty, maybe that part is just fucking sad.

Regarding my reaction to the rest of the film, though, I only really have a lasting, overarching problem with the cinematography/directing choices, I don't know if I'm using the term correctly. Certain epic moments were not given proper epicness, while certain scenes that would have benefited from an intimate shot were filmed on a grand scale. The battle was shot using jump cuts to all the deaths and action and Fred died crumpled in a corner alone and Percy wasn't in it at all. Raaaage. But this is a pretty slim paragraph of complaints, all in all.

Maybe it's because my sense of humor has matured, too, but this was probably the funniest HP movie, by virtue of all the tension-breaking non-sequiters and Voldemort hugging Draco/shoving Bellatrix/laughing/basically doing anything. Oh, and Voldy's head on the aborted fetus-looking thing. Nasty, but it made me giggle inappropriately. It looked like it was covered in tomato sauce. Also: did it look like Snape was wearing excessive amounts of eyeshadow? Like, not in attempt to make his eyes look more sunken or nearer death or anything, Snape was just rocking the smoky eye for no apparent reason. Discuss!

* Did all the bookstores do this? Which did you guys choose (/would you have chosen if asked the question before reading DH)?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Books and Breasts

An Abandoned Career Goal
I write poorly. I write opinions well, I think, and factual information provided I understand it, and even essays when I care about the subject material. As far as fiction goes, though, I just don't have the talent. Some of this is because I haven't written anything fictional for a good, long while. I've always been better at, and better enjoyed, writing short poetic snippets (not to be confused with actual poetry) -- I still wouldn't call them good, but they're alright. I suck at coming up with, and following through, plots. I can't write realistic dialogue to save anyone's life. It would be a disservice to publish my (largely nonexistent) work: the book world needs more thoroughly engaging stories, more diversity, more varying perspectives, more good books -- not more bullshitted monstrosities that glorify the concept of "sad for the sake of being sad" or just feel forced and awkward to read.
It's a bit of a shame because fiction books are one of my favorite things in the entire world and it's been a dream of mine for a long, long while to write something that would inspire the same feelings in other people as the ones I feel when I read something terrific. Yet I'm not broken up over this because I have come to face that I simply don't enjoy writing plots and characters. I'm proud of the end product, not because it's good, but because I finished. It's not tragedy that I'll probably never be a published author, though, because I doubt I would enjoy the work required to get to the point of publishing a book. I don't have that real passion and need to write something down in order to validate it. Within the last year I decided that I would only ever try to publish a book if I wrote something that I needed to write and something that I needed to share with other people. I don't want to try to become an author for the sake of becoming an author. I'll leave that up to the really talented writer folks and make up the difference in my own life by doing something I'm good at and something I enjoy and spend loads of my free time reading and discussing books and other written works. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

In Defense of Breasts
Dear World,
Where I live, summers are hot. Summers are humid. Stepping outside for a few minutes will lull you into the persistent desire to drop down where you're standing and lapse into a nap/coma until the sun burns you into little strips of human bacon. Walking somewhere, or doing any other form of physical activity, is certainly possible, but uncomfortable when wearing lots of clothing. I for one do not enjoy the feeling of sweat sticking my shirt to my back or slowly coming to feel like a cotton tank top has somehow transformed itself into a bearskin coat. I would also like to point out that the bras I typically wear under my shirt are usually less revealing than the majority of bikinis people now wear, which consist largely of the hopes and dreams of horny teenage boys. Also, my male counterparts can remove their shirts in many (though not all) situations pretty guilt-free, and to be honest, a select few of them have larger breasts than I do -- and they don't even have to wear bras! So if I want to take off my shirt while walking down the street because I'm about to die of heat and sweat, please don't act like I'm a) a slut, b) doing it for attention, c) more liable to get raped and thus put stress on the city budget by asking for a rape kit, or d) have no right to 'expose the pure, innocent children to such a horrific site.' The first three options are, well, not options because they mean that you're a sexist asshole. The last option is a moot point because these knockers have evolved for the sole purpose of feeding any future children I may have, so if they're too risque for your kids to see, what were you thinking, exposing your infants to such sexual objects every time they were hungry?! For shame, breast-feeding parent! For shame!
So I address this in particular to my county:
You live in the same place that I do. Perhaps through some lucky genetic mutation, you need 105 degree weather to even begin perspiring. I, however, do not have such a superpower. Please allow me to whip off my shirt in the middle of the summer without looking at me like I'm a skank. Also don't arrest me for public indecency, because I don't know anything about lawsuits or how the police system works, but if I had money, I would sue your ass.
Love, Vita.
P.s. I haven't actually walked around in public with my shirt off before. But I have wanted to. A lot. I'm too much of a coward to do it by myself in the present climate, but I think if I ever get extraordinarily overheated and have someone else to do it with, I would. Fuck all the haters, if I don't care if my bra is showing, you shouldn't either.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I love Harry Potter as much as Melissa Anelli,

and so do most Potter fans. Melissa (the webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron, author of Harry, a History, and all-around Potter fandom star) is arguably one of the biggest Potter fans ever, as far as her work within the fandom goes. She undeniably really freaking loves Harry Potter. And yet I feel that many Potter fans around the world, ranging in age by probably eighty years, can all accurately claim to love the book as much as the key player in Pottercast, LeakyCon, and God knows what else. Most of us love the books second only to JK Rowling herself, who must harbor a love for the books akin to her own child. That's one of the incredibly awesome things about Harry Potter: when you love it, you really love it. I'm not alone in saying that I have never read or experienced anything that has been so thoroughly inviting, believable, heart-wrenching, enviable, beautiful, and real as the Harry Potter books. From the ten year olds who are well on their way to becoming full-fledged Potterheads to the most prominent members of the fandom, I really don't think anyone can truthfully claim to love Harry Potter more than any other fan.

With that love explosion out of the way, let's get down to business.* As I'm the one of us who happens to be blogging on the official North American (?) release date of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2", I feel that I owe it to you to discuss the movie and Harry Potter in general. Plus it's the only thought occupying my brain right now. So here we go.

If you're interested in my initial/insane reaction to the movie, you can find it here. There are spoilers (as there will be in this post)! I still feel the same way although perhaps in a slightly more calm, less sleep deprived frame of mind.

To sum it up, the final movie disappointed me. It was a fine Harry Potter movie and was there an eighth book or part 3 or something I probably would have been satisfied if not overly enthusiastic. However, given that it's the last ever Harry Potter film (save a remake in 50 years), it fell flat for me. There was no cathartic moment, no real feeling that Voldemort -- the overarching link of the whole movie and book series -- had finally come to an end. Instead of putting more emotion into the final minutes of the film, they went for overdone special effects. I get that it's a blockbuster and a bigger fight scene is more cinematically appealing or whatever, but takes away so much for Voldemort to be jumping off cliffs and chasing around Harry instead of that quick end that he deserves. I suppose the death of Voldemort disappointed me so much because it implied that Voldemort was still more than a mortal: mortal men don't disintegrate into disgusting flecks of human grist when they get AK'd; they simply die. The whole point is that no longer hiding behind his Horcruxes, Voldemort is a mortal man, driven not by far superior talent or superhuman powers but by his own evil, selfish ambition to control life and death -- something that no one can truly master. I would have liked to see the directors go for the simple and deliberate route of death rather than the drawn-out, convoluted duel. Followed by the (annoyingly lacking in the actual film) cheers and screams and cries of the watching crowd, I honestly think that moment of Voldemort's final downfall would have been much more poignant, and I don't just say that as a book-devoted Harry Potter fan.

...And then, as I rushed out of the theater at two thirty in the morning so that my sister's friend could speed home and get a whisper of sleep before her 9 a.m. job, half-laughing and half-shouting with two of my friends, my sister, and her friend about the ridiculous flaws in the movie, I realized that I'm not too sad about this last movie coming out after all because it's finally set in that it's not really ending.

That's one of the benefits, I suppose, of centering my whole love-of-the-boy-wizard around the books. It's always been about the books. Not about the movies, not about the Harry Potter themed events, just about the books. The book Harry Potter is the real Harry Potter. Since I haven't been heavily involved in the fandom, when I rushed out of the theater last night, I wasn't leaving behind the end of anything. Sure, I'll miss the few wrock concerts I've been to and the opportunity to go to more, and yes, it'll be sad to see some of my favorite internet personalities move on from publicly ravishing Harry Potter and Dumbledore, but with the release of this last movie, I'm not really leaving behind an era of my life. I'm not marking the end of Harry Potter themed events with my friends like many people who have been heavily involved in the fandom. I have lots of friends who love Harry Potter just as much as I do, of course, but they're my friends independently of Harry Potter, by which I mean I would be friends with them regardless.

Most of the sadness I feel from the "end of Harry Potter" (heavy quotation marks; note indication of skepticism) comes from the people within the fandom itself, this resolute chant that their "childhood is ending." For me, though, not much is ending at all. My love for Harry Potter is centered solely around these seven books that already reside at my house any time I want to revisit them. I've enjoyed the movies but they're not what I love about Harry Potter:

I realize now that the end of Deathly Hallows is so tremendously moving because of every single little nuance leading up to the battle and during the battle and, yes, even after the battle. I didn't cry during the book because Harry talks to his family (both the blood related and friend created kind) and walks through the forest to his death; I cried because of how JK Rowling wrote that scene, how much more depth it gives to this already wonderfully complex character, and that simply couldn't translate to the big screen for me. The highs of the movie -- namely, the downfall of Voldemort -- simply weren't high enough for me and the lows -- Harry dying, the Prince's Tale -- could never hope to capture the emotions I feel towards the real characters. I like the movie trio a lot, but they've always, always, always been the movie trio, not the real trio, to me.

In my mind, Harry Potter: the Movies and Harry Potter: the Books fall into two distinct, only superficially overlapping, circles. The events of both are almost the same. Some of the characters overlap: if I were to offer anybody serious evidence that Hogwarts is real and the books are simply an elaborate cover story, I would direct them to Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman to prove that nobody can act that convincingly and perfectly. A sort of guilt settled on me yesterday morning for not loving this last movie, because I know how much everyone has worked to make it perfect. It's the "end of an era," everyone says! Surely, to validate my existence as a Harry Potter fan, I should have walked out of the theater in tears! Nay, I should have broken down during the opening title sequence! I shouldn't have been able to roll my tear-free eyes at my friend during the movie final battle itself! Now, though, I am guilt free and infected with only the slightest bit of remorse that I didn't cry and I don't feel depressed. Slight masochist that I am, I would like to be able to have a sort of "mine is bigger than yours" comparison/duel with other fans about how many buckets of tears I shed during the movie. Feeling less love for the movie makes me feel a bit like the grumpy stick in the mud.

But you know what? I am a book girl, through and through. I enjoy the Harry Potter movies, but they're not really Harry Potter. And I can't control when I cry: the (spoiler!) cat dying in "Ramona and Beezus" unexpectedly got me sniffling and fighting to keep my tears within my tear ducts. The (double spoiler!) death of an adorable character in "The Princess and the Frog" had me battling to keep my crying silent in a theater full of four year olds and their moms. But the death of movie Fred just made me quite calmly think, "Well, this is depressing." Do you know, I believe that the expectation that I would cry actually kept me from feeling really cut up over this movie. So I like my tragedy to be unexpected and free from pressure. Sue me.

I'll likely even appreciate this film once I lower my expectations and realize that I should never again expect the movie to be the book -- which I haven't done for previous movies but as this is the last ever I really expected to feel and love it more. My favorite Potter movies are by far the first two even after all this time because they're the ones that capture the spirit of Harry Potter the best, if not every single detail -- they're the ones about friendship and a young, brave boy proving himself against evil -- they're the ones that balance dark and light -- and I think they're able to do so because those two books aren't as complex but it's still an impressive feat that I appreciate so much. At any rate, I'm looking forward to many future 20+ hour complete Potter marathons -- supplemented, I'm sure, by a hearty conclusion that the books are better.

* To defeat... well, you know who. (See what I did there?!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I am a mature young adult; I will be unsupervised, at night, in costume

(Alright, so this will be the c-c-c-combo breaker of the chain of deep and thoughtful posts. But isn't that how it always is?)

First, a sigh of relief on my part, as I only just recently obtained my ticket for the midnight premiere*, after being completely convinced they would have sold out by now. I'm really not the best person at planning ahead, even for important things.

Anyway, this whole business got me thinking. As with the last two movies, I was planning (there's that word again) to go with a group. Then they backed out of it, both having to get up for summer school in the morning and being incapable of working on very few hours of sleep.** But instead of sulking and backing out of the chance to traipse around in a costume in the wee hours of the morning and to go to my first midnight premiere ever for the last Harry Potter movie ever and to truly enjoy myself, I went ahead and got the ticket. I am going alone and I'm going to have fun if it kills me or another innocent bystander in the process. I feel like this is a mature decision, even if I'm not deciding to do a conventionally mature thing. I don't need the acceptance or safety of a group to have fun. This is kind of a momentous decision, in its own weird way.

* I got permission to go sometime in mid-May (my mother is very much a supporter of midnight movies, based on her experiences with them back when they were entertainment for delinquent subculture children instead of profitable nerd fanbases), but the actual physical admission is recent.

** Unlike moi. It's strange I consider the ability to handle sleep deprivation well a skill, but in a way it is.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stressy McStresspants

It hit me this afternoon how much school-related work I actually have to do this summer. (There's a lot of other stuff I have to do too, but that's not my concern right now.) School doesn't start again for nearly one and a half months, but I am absolutely dreading the start of it. As it's my senior year, I guess I'm supposed to be excited for it, but I'm not in the slightest. There's only about one and a half classes (one of them's only a semester long) out of seven that I'm remotely looking forward to. They do a bad job of making up for the other five and a half classes that I'm about ready to impale myself on a spit with a roasting pig rather than attend. Add that to all the extra work I have to do for the IB program and it's not shaping up to be a fun time. I can't figure out if I regret doing IB or if I'm just fed up with school in general and am transferring that resentment over to the IB program specifically; either way, I am totally unenthused about academia.

It's less the schoolwork for actual school that briefly stunned me, though; it's the work I have to do to get ready for applying to college. I'm a bit excited to actually apply for college. I hear it's stressful and I feel absolutely behind and clueless on the whole process -- I swear, I do not know how my classmates and their parents know so much about the college process; I have an older sister in college and I still have no idea what they're talking about half the time -- and I have concerns about college itself, but filling out the applications feels like a major milestone. It's the first serious step I'll take towards seriously deciding on a serious post-high school plan. That's awesome -- and I do mean that in its awe-inspiring definition rather than in the slang sense.

In some ways, college seems like a buffer period for middle and upper class American kids. Living on your own without really living on your own; graduating school and yet still going to school; summer vacations and low-paying jobs and internships; the knowledge that your parents' house is still available to you as a permanent residence. It also seems to be a place where kids go to figure out what they want to do with their lives. That's one of the reasons why I'm a bit apprehensive towards this whole college phenomenon. I really dislike school right now -- a lot more than I did in sophomore year or previously. What if I get to college and I don't like school any better? And I feel like such a jerk to go to college just to figure out what I want to do; it seems like such a privileged waste of money to spend two years waffling about, trying to decide if I want to major in European art history from 1800-1882 or the effects of the Roman civilization on modern warfare.* I did seriously consider taking a gap year after high school, but I'm worried that if I do that, I'll end up just wasting a year doing stupid things I don't care about and that it'll be totally unproductive and unhelpful. Be it a fact or just a belief that's been pounded through my head for the past fifteen years, I do feel like going to college will ultimately expand my options in life, especially given that I don't plan on eking out a living on pure talent alone.**

Basically, I'm at a total loss as to what I want to do and even, in the more practical sense, what I should do. Not to turn this little worry session into a philosophical rambling, but since I really believe that this life is the only one I'll ever have, I don't want to waste it. The two goals of anyone's life should be to make a positive impact on the world and to simply be happy (hence the satisfaction post on Friday). I want to do both of those things... it's just the 'getting there' part that's hella*** difficult.

Talking about school in the middle of the summer sucks; I try to avoid doing it. I already complain enough during the school year and I don't want it to ruin my summer. It's one of those things that gets worse the longer it sits silently festering, though, so I'm getting this school angst out here in the hope that it will bother me less in the near future.

*Neither of these are actual options on the grounds that I'm deeply uninterested in both topics and also I don't think they're real majors.
**Mostly because I don't have any talents that are good enough that anybody would feel remotely inclined to pay me for the privilege of experiencing.
***I really should stop typing that; I don't live in California...or anywhere people say that...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Selfish happiness is still happiness. The selfishness is debatable.

Do you ever snuggle under the covers and think, simply think, about what would make you truly happy? Forget instant gratification. Forget your short-term goals. Forget, even, the perfect 'dream' life. Just think about what would make you entirely content from the ideal level of comfort of the sole of your foot to the complex, needy consciousness in your brain.

Me, I don't have the specifics down. Images flash to mind, sure. My future house changes. Morphs from a seaside cottage in Maine to an apartment in a lively, small, Scottish town. Sometimes I'm with a long-term boyfriend/cohort banging out music on pots and pans and raspy vocals, despite my considerable lack of most musical ability. Or else I'm scuttling around some remote, unidentified territory, helping install clean water wells and making friends with the local toddlers. Problem is, though, I don't know what I want to do with my life. Every career option has a fatal flaw. Sometimes I see my own fatal flaw beating me as a second heart.

I think I know what I want.

I want to make connections to other people. To start a family in more ways than one. To be totally satisfied with the people closest to me, but still be open to meeting new people, really getting to know them. For me, at least, the central part of my happiness is making sure that I have those connections to people that will always bring everything else into perspective. It's so easy to look at the world and only see the bad and the hopeless. Making connections, real connections, to people, people you can always depend on, that's what makes living worth the trouble.

That's not the only thing that would make me happy. I want a job or career or whatever you want to call it that means something to me. It has to be something I enjoy or else something I feel is truly important. I want to have an exciting life so that when I'm an elderly lady I won't look back at all the things I regret not doing. I don't ever want to be filled with regrets from my past because my future can always be better. But the key to being really happy, to me, is finding people who I totally love and who love me back. And yeah, for me, that probably means at some point getting married and having kids. Perhaps this doesn't seem ambitious enough in an age of budding female power players and when everyone is hopping about, ready to change the world. I've realized, though, that what should make you happy doesn't really matter -- it's what actually does make you happy that's relevant. Perhaps I should feel totally gratified by saving a life or helping a community. But I don't. That's not to say that doing things for the greater good is unimportant or unsatisfying, but my happiness is a lot more personal. There's no use in doing things to make everyone else's lives better if you are perpetually unsatisfied. Being selfless is necessary. Being a little selfish is necessary, too.

It's fascinating how easily people make friends. Yes, there are plenty of socially awkward people or shy people or just unlikable people who feel quite friendless. Yet you're only friends with the people you're friends with because you happened to meet them. There was no fate involved. It's simply random chance. You live somewhere that places you in the same school with some other people and some of those some other people become your friends. If you had lived across the country the same thing would have happened but with different people. When you meet somebody by more proactive means, such as over the internet because you share similar interests, it's still pretty damn random that you should meet. There are probably hundreds or thousands of people who share those same interests. But you didn't meet them. You met this one person. Really, the world is just absolutely brimming with potential new friends, if only you could meet them all.

So much of who we are is defined by everyone around us. Nobody is really independent. In the midst of all this striving to 'find myself' and 'follow my dreams' and 'become my own person,' I don't want to forget that, at any given time, the best part of my life will always be the people who are there to join me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

why this blogging thing?

I don't know how to start this.

I had a conversation with a couple people earlier (vague conversation is vague). We were planning a philosophy gathering/discussion thing, anyway, not the point. I started talking about my blogging life which has become somewhat stagnant in the past couple months and one of these two people asked me why I blogged.

And I sat there staring, with a quizzical look in my eye, trying to figure it out. Since then, in an attempt to be more thoughtful and critical, I've actually tried to think about this a lot lately. Why blog in a public space when an email could do the same basic functions of three people communicating random and not so random moments of life and fascination and feelings from frustration to anticipation? What does this platform have to offer us, other than some self indulgent feeling of significance?

It's quite possible I'm being overly cynical about this and that there is value to this public space where we post all these fleeting thoughts but could someone help me out here? What do you get out of this being a blog, rather than three people emailing each other several times a week?

Philosophy can be so consuming. Once it gets a hold of you, you can't escape until you've examined every detail of your existence. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing, just that it can shake a lot of foundations which can be exhausting to constantly deal with.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Re: Harry Potter; also, tears.

Aggggh same let us weep together.

In a way, I feel like this whole thing follows the 5 stages of grief model pretty well:

1. Denial: (circa Nov. 2010) "It's not really ending. July is forever away from now!"

2. Anger: "How dare they end shfsdjkslsrrrr how dare they to rip my childhood away from me."

3. Bargaining: "Dear JK Rowling: BOOK. EIGHT. *repeat as chant ad infinitum* PS: Pretty please with sugar and cherries and sprinkles and chocolate frogs on top. Signed, Everyone."

4. Depression: "It's the end of an era; this will be the last time that *fill in long list of HP-related moments*; please excuse me if I whimper at the thought."

5. Acceptance: Coming soon to a theater near you.

Looking back on the half of my life I've spent with these books and movies and this community, the way they've shaped me is almost indescribable. If I hadn't read Harry Potter (or seen the movies; let's assume for the sake of fictionality that I live under a very large rock), I wouldn't be a Nerdfighter. I wouldn't have the same best friend IRL. I wouldn't aspire to be a novelist. I wouldn't be blogging about this right now. Speaking as the person I am, I can't really imagine what I'd be like.

When I was in the second grade, before I had even read the books, my music teacher had a "guess this tune" game with our class. She played Hedwig's Theme on piano, just the first eight notes or so. Everyone else knew what it was, but that's beside the point. Those eight notes were so hauntingly beautiful, and I was struck by them in the way a piece of music hadn't touched me before nor do I think one has ever since. There's something intriguing, inviting, magical about them. And in two weeks I'm probably going to tear up whenever I hear them. That's something strange to think about. When, after I see the last film, am I going to hear them again? In ten years will I see someone on a bus who has it as their ringtone? And will I meet their gaze for a second, sharing a knowing look of nostalgia between strangers?

I probably will.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Harry Potter; also, tears

Thus far my summer has been a bit of a failure as far as excitement/productivity goes. On the bright side, a surplus of down time has allowed me to fling myself headfirst into the throes of Harry Potter.

As suggested by that choice noun in the previous sentence, this is potentially not actually a good thing. I've done a lot of wallowing about, bemoaning that I was too young to really join the Harry Potter fandom during its height and now that I'm older and actually follow my own interests (hello, vortex of superficiality and/or conformity that was middle school) and am allowed to do stuff by myself it's all dying down and it's too late for everything and my life sucks. I've also been listening to a lot of wizard rock, which makes me more depressed, due to its acute ability to prick just about every emotional bubble in my soul. Ministry of Magic is especially good for that. In brief, immersing myself in Harry Potter over the last week or so has made me never want to be alone ever again -- which is an unfortunate thing to feel during the summer when everyone you like has wildly different schedules.

...This was going to be a lot longer and have a point to it, but I'm currently curled up in the corner, listening to my favorite wrock songs and feeling like crying. Which, really, is a point in itself. S'laters.

Oh, and happy Canada Day, to our valued Canadian member!