Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pottermore, finally and gloriously.

After waiting, through days of watching friends and acquaintances receive their emails, posting screencaps of their wands, expressing disappointment or glee in their houses, through a not-unsubstantial bit of raging over the beta quality and obviously high demand, I'm in.

Straight facts: Chestnut with unicorn core, ten inches, unyielding; Ravenclaw.

Opinions and things: Ravenclaw or not, I was still as giddy as a small child on Christmas during the sorting, and I answered them all in about 10 seconds to ensure I didn't deliberate on them and thus rig it one way or the other. Because, you know, this is/was serious stuff. I'm saying that facetiously now, but it was, in a way. After the giddy sort of random omnipotent magic of Santa/Christmas has faded, how often does that feeling return to us? Pottermore sparked it again. And if that's silly, I don't care. What the especially overly zealous and bitter Tumblrfolk should realize is, firstly, this is a website and thus does not have any real impact on your life, etc. But because it's a website, specifically designed to evoke the "reality" of the Harry Potter world for eleven year olds and any of us who seek to relive our childhoods in some way, I say, just embrace it. Instead of scorning Jo Rowling/whatever mathematical algorithm placed you in Slytherin when you are without doubt a Gryffindor, have fun.

(Vita, what's your username again? Alex posted hers awhile ago, and I somewhat remember yours as being SnidgetOwl??)

And now I should sleep. Possibly expect edits to this, I don't know.

Monday, September 26, 2011

after A Series of Unfortunate Absences

I like children's books.

Admittedly, I can't always resist the temptation to skip the long, silly, rhyming names of characters in easy-reader picture books when I read them out loud for the young'uns. Children's novels, though, or stories, or really anything with a solid plot -- they're seriously underrated.

Reviewers tend to treat them with a slightly condescending tone. I realize that children, despite our desperate attempts to romanticize childhood and wholeheartedly accept their underdeveloped brains as beacons of truth in the world while simultaneously ignoring the vast majority of what they have to say, have not lived as widely as adults and thus need slightly easier, simpler stories. This is not a shameful fact, nor a reason for condescension.

Have you realized how funny a lot of kids' books are? And morbid and politically incorrect half the time, as well. Anyone who has read anything by Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket can attest to that. I think that children's books are some of the best for those who want to love reading for entertainment again. Removed, to some degree, is the temptation to analyze every detail, every theme. Simply relax and enjoy the dry wit, the engaging characters, the intriguing plot, everything that made you love reading before you got smart.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thoughts from Places: Nelson, BC

Before we went, when I'd tell people I was going to Nelson, they would usually say, "Do you have family there?" I would pause, reflect and, if it was someone I didn't really want to talk to, I'd lie and say yes. If I cared about the person, I'd explain why we were actually going. But the reasons sounded flat even before they left my mouth.

We just wanted to see the place. My distance ed school is based there and we'd heard good things. Pretty much every person I talked to about this town of 10,000 in the mountains would respond in one of two ways:
  1. "Nelson? Where's that?" OR
  2. "You're going to Nelson?! That's so cool. I love it there. It's such a rad little town.", etc.
Maybe hearing rumours of its inherent charm isn't enough to get a lot of families to embark on a nine hour drive but it was enough for us. Since childhood, my family has been one of roadtrips. We're part nomad, I'm convinced of it.*

On September 10th, we set off on our journey, winding along mountains and camping along rivers until we got to Nelson on Tuesday. We stayed at a hostel there. The place was characterized by creaky floorboards and excessively large keys. Naturally, we loved it.

The thing about Nelson, geographically speaking, is that it is right next to a lake in the mountains. And it is largely a hill. So that's a bit... challenging. But aside from my whining about walking up hills, it's a pretty grand set-up.

For the two nights we were there, I mostly hung out in the lobby reading but when I did venture outside, it was delightful. There's some really amazing restaurants and shops and the farmers' market on Wednesday morning was lovely. There's something that's harder to describe, too. Something about the way people smile at you when you pass them on the street and how everywhere you look there's something to do with social justice, environmentalism or just plain awesomeness.

It really got me wondering about setting. I feel like as a writer, I put a lot of emphasis on place. I'm not even that good about writing convincing settings**. I do think about them, though. I was really comfortable in Nelson and it is somewhere I could potentially see myself. The actual idea of leaving is scary, of course, but the possibility is only slightly daunting.

"It's so hard to leave--until you do. And then it's the easiest goddamned thing in the world" -Paper Towns, John Green

I've been rolling around that quote in my mind for weeks now and I can't push it away. Anyway, as my wise sister said, "I think I could be happy anywhere."

*And you know we're purportedly 70% water? Yeah, I'm pretty sure my family is at least 40% tea. That's called unschooler science
**Both of my novels are set where I live because I am just that unimaginative.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

If this is what marriage is, it's pretty adorable.

I haven't blogged in so long I forgot Blogger was reformatted like this. My logic is based on the fact that, if I'm procrastinating on a writing assignment, and I also blog during that period of procrastination, I could be doing the assignment, so in the interest of avoiding schoolwork and my own guilt, this blog has fallen by le wayside. Lo siento.*

Okay, this has melted my little icy (and jaded and stony) heart.

If marriage entails being silly and making stupid jokes and making toilet brushes British-accented puppets, then I really, truly, do want to be married. It's not just these things, it's the fact that they're comfortable enough with each other to do them, and statements of affection for each other need not be more complex than, "Thank you for being married to me. I like it."

I don't particularly know why I'm even discussing this at length. You might be thinking to yourself, "Yeah, that's marriage, big deal." but seeing people in love (actual, comfortable, marriagey adulty love as opposed to short-term marshmallowy teenage love), makes me feel all warm and fuzzy deep in my grinch-sized soul hole.

At the risk of becoming another cynical statistic, I have to say, I think this craving for "marriagey, adulty love"** is because when I did see it, I wasn't exactly taking notes. I didn't get to see my flesh-and-blood parents flirt/be loving married adults during my pubescent formative years.*** Which, if I'm free to place blame here, some study (not citing source tsk tsk) suggests is why I/other kids of divorced parentage tend to be socially/romantically awkward. Because flirting is a magical learned skill that people pick up from their parents relationship or something (again, boo un-cited claims).


* Side: I'm going to have to conduct a phone conversation with the sister of my aunt's friend's friend (i.e a complete stranger) entirely in Spanish, and I'm dying a little. Granted, it will be easy questions like, "How is your sister doing? Which room is she in?", and so on (and not flirting, which is related and aforementioned in my struggle with this language).

** Such a way with words I have, if I do say so myself.

*** I will admit that I'm lucky to have parents that are still stupid and jokey and amicable towards each other regardless of marital status.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

more Hogwarts house philosophizing

I know, I know, shut up with the house angst, Alex, it's not even real. Butnoseriously, I've had a lot of time to think about this and think about it I have.

Now, if you care, which I don't completely understand why you would but-it's-okay-that-I-don't-understand-you-I've-read-Paper-Towns-it's-all-good, but if you do read on. If you don't--and know in your heart that I don't particularly blame you--here is a pretty picture of Nelson, British Columbia, a town which was the destination of a family road trip this past week. I am silently composing a blog post about this unspeakably rad little city in the mountains but I'm letting it stew before I unleash it. Maybe Thursday? Don't hold your breath. It's unhealthy.

Let's get on with it then, shall we?

On paper, I see how I come across as rather Huffleypuffly. I have all that friendship, loyalty, quiet strength thing going on. I'm kind when I want to be and hardworking when I need to be and many multiple choice quizes have pointed me in the direction of Helga Hufflepuff's noble house. And that's fantastic. Power to the Puffs.

But, says that tiny voice in my head, I associate way more with a couple of Gryffindors than I ever have with any Hufflepuffs. Yeah, sure, that could be because most main characters in Harry Potter favour scarlet and gold--that's where JKR puts the focus and most developmet. I see that. AND, as I was reading on Pottermore yesterday, these two Gryffindors in particular that I recognize myself in were two of the closest to being "hatstalls" in Harry's year.

And maybe that's the point of this seemingly pointless exercise. Isn't that what J.K. Rowling is saying when Dumbledore voices the thought that maybe we sort too soon. And if we sort too soon, than we stereotype too soon as well. Because Hufflepuffs are not leftovers and Slytherin's are not all evil. Let's just do ourselves and each other a favour and admit that we're all a bit hatstall-y.

I think bravery is important and I may not always do the courageous thing but I'm trying, just like Neville. Sometimes, I freak out and run away and stress out about things that don't need to be stressed. But you can be sure that on some level I'm trying to keep calm and logical, like Hermione.

I have no idea where I stand on the matter of relevancy and value and meaning of this whole debacle. And no matter how many hats tell me Hufflepuff like it's that easy, I will be a self proclaimed, hatstalling Gryffinhuffleclaw.*

On another note, whilst on vacation I read approximately four books each of which was enjoyable in it's own right. Of these books, I must recommend A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson. This book is unlike most of the things I read but in the most enchanting and whimsical way. It's a story that is so magical and perfectly pieced together that it was impossible not to adore it.

I'm building a reading list for myself tomorrow, including, I hope, some decent non-fiction along with the usual fictitious subjects. Any recommendations?

*I don't think I have any Slytherin qualities, and that's NOT because I have a high opinion of myself and think Slytherins are scummy.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I have many Thoughts. It is a constant quest of mine to search for a good topic for a blog post. What is too specific to a certain interest, what is too much whining, what is too political or too much of a downer. Subtract all those things and you've either got a decent blog post or no ideas at all. Sometimes it feels like the latter a lot more than the former.

At any rate, I have Things To Do -- got sidetracked from them by a broken fridge and subsequent, family-wide, frantic eating of perishable food items; never quite got back on track -- and it is nearly 11 p.m. and I am sleepy so the time has come to be decisive.

I wasn't going to talk about 9/11. Well, I was going to and then I was not going to but my other option involves a lot more thinking and I have less time for that now so we are going back to 9/11. Which I realize many people wouldn't appreciate me viewing as a fallback option but I think that's even maybe a good thing. Because one day not too long from now it's going to be another Pearl Harbor and we're only going to be vicariously sad through our grandparents. And that's okay, that's good, because we can't keep feeling the same emotion to the same intensity forever or our brains would fizzle out and we would be gray-faced zombies walking around, too worn out for tears. And I'd rather save my tears for when the occasion really calls for them.

And I guess I'm not really going to talk about 9/11, not exactly. It is, after all, September 12.

What I am going to talk about is perspective, or something like that.

Because that's really important.

Because losing 2,985+ people in virtually one go is horrible for the U.S. And it's horrible for anyone. But in many places it's also a lot more routine.

And while I don't think nationalism is actually a bad thing, or more to the point it is an undeniably present thing regardless of whether or not it is good or bad, because I share to some degree the same culture and hardships and frustration and decisions that other Americans share which I can't say is true of much of the world to the same degree, so I can forgive feeling swept away by national solidarity, but all that separates me from Mexico or Canada is some land and imaginary lines and highway tolls and then another toy fence and another imaginary border. And all that separates me from Iraq is some water and some land and some people and some guns. And even though I may not elect a nationalistic Iraqi as the president of This Country -- were that allowed by our paper document of laws and rules -- and while we may see the world too differently to be friends as we each are right now I still don't want that Iraqi to die or lose their family or feel fear. I don't wish that on anyone except maybe Hitler and a few others and they're either dead or will go that way eventually.

All the world needs, other than a better distribution of food and a better environmental policy, is more empathy. Because if you really, truly have empathy, you will never invade a country for your own gain and you will never bomb a country out of hate and you will never kill a person except maybe out of self-defense or by accident.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Emotional Maturity

(I'm just going to go ahead and say this is an update blog. I'm alive, if that's all you're going to skim this for. ;))

Aside from my recent abhorrence of writing for fun (ex: this whole shebang), things are going okay. It's weird.

1. I hardly ever expect things to be going smoothly. If things ever seem that way, I assume that things are going so horribly my mind has collapsed and has gone into completely-not-giving-a-shit mode to protect itself.

2. When I do finally convince myself that things are not totally falling to shit, "okay" is never good enough. "Okay" is mind-numbing routine.

For right now, at least, it's not been like that. I've accepted that on a day to day basis there will end up being unexpected crap parts and equally unexpected good parts. It used to be that I would have these preconceived notions about days being good vs. bad based on assorted tasks/activities to be completed within that 24 hour period and my corresponding dread/excitement about those things.

Have I reached the peak of mental nirvana known as maturity by not getting so consumed in the quality of my everyday experiences, or does this acceptance prove that I'm just as apathetic as ever? Am I being an adult (kind of), or am I completely delusional?*

* "or am I completely delusional?" is, as always, a viable option, and must be considered when asking any introspective rhetorical question.

Monday, September 5, 2011


It's one of those words that get bandied around a ton. Yet it wasn't until this past July that someone asked me to tangify* it.

I was sitting there in class with my two discussion buddies, coming up with some decent responses. Well, it's a group of people that are connected to each other in some way and they provide support and solidarity to each other and the group as a whole. It sounded good and when the two minutes was up, I was pretty pleased to turn back to the larger group and give our report.

Then our facilitator started to say his idea of the word. He prefaced it with the fact that he's disagreed with people on this before and that he's open to alternative opinions. He then said that he believed a community had to be grounded in a physical location, preferable a small one.

Everyone in that room sat in silence for a fraction of a moment and that thought rolled around in my mind. What immediately came to mind was Nerdfighteria but I tried to keep myself open and not shut his words down on the spot.

He went on to say that the word community is so commonplace that people confuse the meaning. And the things it is used to describe are definitely relevant and important, but he believes that community is not the right word for them.

Now, this facilitator, by the name of Matt Hern, is someone I really admire. He's a very cool guy and I agree with his opinions on many accounts. But after a while I decided that I disagreed on this matter and that actually felt really great. Months later, I'm still savouring that feeling. Maturity, maybe.

I'm not writing this to seek consolation or disagreement. It's the internet, there's tons of those things everywhere. I guess I just wanted to acknowledge that, though over and over I've been let bias rule my thoughts and actions, this one time I did the best I could to evaluate from a different side before solidifying my opinion. I'm seeing it as a personal triumph.

Maybe community is a word that's thrown around too much. But who can say that the support and connection that I've felt on the internet and specifically through Nerdfighteria isn't as really as the solidarity I've felt through my next door neighbours? Community might not be the right word for some people but it's the right word for me.

I'm going to sleep now. I'm not sure if this blog is classified as a community but I'm glad to be a part of whatever this little group of three is. :)

*Not a word, huh? I'll give you scwiggly lines, Blogger. Don't test me!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

my Hogwarts house issues

I was going to blog about saggy pants in Florida today which is something I heard about on the radio yesterday and am incensed by. But I have something, that, while perhaps not more pressing than the constriction of rights and freedoms, is perhaps more pertinent to this blog today.

I have a confession and it is that I am prejudiced against Hufflepuffs. I'm trying to work through my issues quietly before I am faced with the Pottermore sorting and the possibility of becoming a Hufflepuff. But it is hard. I can't help thinking that I'd rather be a Slytherin because I'd rather be seen as evil than stupid. I need to get over this. It's only a seven question quiz sorting me into a fictional school house. Why does it matter?

Yet the fact that I have such a big deal with being associated with Hufflepuffs (no matter how many great Hufflepuffs there are, including the majority of my friends) hopefully will keep me away from Hufflepuffs. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I feel like Hufflepuffs are a lot more mellow about their image rather than freaking out about this kind of thing.

Alright. Blog has been written about problems involving fiction. I think I can move on now. Equal opportunity house love! Let the go-with-the-flow part of my attitude take over.

*whispers* Not Hufflepuff. Not Hufflepuff.

Actually, now that I've written this, or maybe just from thinking about it all day, I feel like I'm ceasing to care. At this very second, all the energy that I've been spending over not wanting to be a Hufflepuff is seeping out of me. It's weird. Maybe I'm tired.

Now that I'm over this, can my Pottermore email please come? Please?