the liebster tag.

I rarely do tags – not because people don’t tag me (they do), and not because it doesn’t fit with my blog’s theme (because lol what theme).  It’s simply because I forget.  So if you tag me, please let me know.  I love getting tagged!  The other day, I got tagged by Phoebe over at The Storybook Journal (link to tag here) and I actually remembered!  YAY!

Rules:
1. Link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Answer the eleven questions.
3. Tag eleven bloggers, and let them know you’ve done so.
4. Ask your tagged bloggers eleven questions.

Phoebe’s Questions:
1. Do you usually cry over the deaths or misfortunes of fictional characters in books and movies? Or are you “not a crier”?
BHAHAHAHA.  Wow.  Well, I’m gonna be completely honest with you – I’m a weirdo.  While real-life events don’t often make me cry (something I’m working on), fictional events have the ability to make. me. weep.  I well up in tears pretty often, especially if it’s a touching scene, and I can all-out sob sometimes.  For instance, the first book that made me cry was Little Men, and I can’t remember exactly what happens in the scene, but it had something to do with Dan taking the fall for something Nat did.  Boy, did that make me cry.  Another book that made me cry was Fault in Our Stars.  Although I don’t recommend it to “just anybody” and even though I totally knew what happened in the end… I still sobbed.  Like, gut-wrenching, shoulder-heaving sobs.  It was intense.  I don’t think I’ve cried this much over a book since – OH WAIT YES I HAVE.  The end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Yep.  I cried over the last hundred pages, closed the book, hugged it to my chest, and continued to cry.  *wipes away a tear*  M’kay, moving on.

2. Is there a popular TV show or a movie that you just CAN’T bring yourself to like, in spite of everyone’s good opinions of it?
Oh gosh.  The last time I bashed something that everybody liked didn’t go very well.  After thinking for a while, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say… Downton Abbey.  NOW BEFORE YOU THROW ANYTHING AT ME, JUST LISTEN.  I watched the first two and a half seasons and I absolutely loved it.  Then I got to The Sybil Episode – yes, I knew what happened, and that’s what kept me from watching the end of it.  I knew Something Was Going Down, and I wasn’t emotionally prepared for it that day.  I put it off and started watching something that would make me happier, not more sad than I already was.  And then… I just never watched the end.  I still love the show, deep down somewhere, but, for now, I have too much drama (and school – oh gosh, the amount of school I have is n u t s) in my life to bring myself to go back to it.  I’m graduating sometime early next year, so maybe then?  I know my younger sister fell in love with it too, and binged the entire show in like a month.  (I was on that track before I stopped watching, lol.)  So… no hard feelings.  We’re good, right?  I still love me some Allen Leech, and McGonagall the Dowager Countess of Grantham is everything I aspire to be when I’m her age.

3. Do you have a garden? If so, what sort of things do you grow in it? Is it a vegetable or flower garden?
Nope.  I have a tendency to kill plants because I forget to water them.  However.  My family’s building a house and moving sometime in the next year, and I think I’m going to try to put forth more effort in that area when we move.  After all, my future exposed-brick studio apartment is going to house a lot of plants, and I’m gonna need to get used to watering them on a daily basis.  🙂

4. With the approach of oncoming Winter, do you find yourself excited for the change of season, or is your mindset closer to: ” *sigh* Oh boy. Here it comes. Winter. AGAIN.”?
I’M SO EXCITEDDDDD.  I love fall and winter in and of themselves, basically because what’s not to love about the changing colors of the leaves and snuggling in blankets and too-big hoodies and pumpkin spice lattes (I swear I’ll become a real Basic White Girl and try one this year) and boots and scarves and socks and reading books in the morning while sipping hot coffee?!  Besides all of that, a lot of fun things are happening in the fall/winter, including weddings and trips with friends and holidays and my birthday and – HELLO – possibly graduating sooner rather than later and moving into a completely new house where my sister and I get literally the entire basement (SO EXCITED, Y’ALL).  So, yes.  I’m usually pretty excited about fall/winter, but especially so this year.  🙂

5. What is the last book you read? How would you rate it out of five stars?
I actually stopped answering these questions so I could go finish The Outsiders, a book my darling friend Eva recommended, so I could see what I’d rate it.  And GOSH DANG IT, IT WAS SO GOOD.  See my Goodreads review for further fangirling (because I don’t have enough space here), but I’ll definitely be re-reading it and recommending it to a few people.  5/5 stars!

6. Do you collect anything? How many/much do you own?
I used to collect stamps (lol), which I’d put in these three massive 3-ring binders, way back when.  I’d listen to Les Mis (the 10th anniversary cast, aka basically the only one worth listening to) and The Little Mermaid (the OBC) on my boom box with headphones while I worked.  (Gosh, that must’ve been ’06 or ’07… why am i so o l d)  I also collect books, too.  Obviously.  😛  I’m working on collecting beautiful hardcover books, but I only have enough money to splurge every now and then.  My big HEY LOOK I’M A SENIOR!!!! gift to myself was a hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (which I thought was amazing), and I just bought a hardcover copy of The Problem with Forever for a school thing (long story, but yes, it’s for school. #cheatingthesystem).

7. If you could invite one (and ONLY ONE) fictional character to dinner, who would it be?
Well, right now I just want to invite Johnny from The Outsiders over, if only to feed him Pepsi and banana milkshakes and fries and candy bars as I hug him tightly and tell him that he’s too precious for this world.  While sobbing.  …  Oh gosh, moving on.

8. What book is nearest to you at this very moment?
*smirky emoji*  Nearest to me, as in proximity, or nearest… to my heart???  I’ll take both.  Nearest, as in proximity, would be a collection of Herman Melville’s shorter works, which I had to get from the library in order to read/write a report on Benito Cereno.  I’ve never read it before (nor any of Melville’s other stuff {sue me}), but I liked it because the plot twist made the initial confusion totally worth it.  Nearest, as in to my heart, would be If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher.  A good friend gave it to me for my surprise book-themed 21st birthday party last year (which will probably be my favorite birthday for the rest of my life), and I didn’t get around to reading it ’til a few months ago.  It took me SO LONG to read it because every time I’d try reading it, I’d burst into tears because the writing was so beautiful and so. incredibly. relevant.  Seriously, read it.  It’ll change your life.

9. Since Halloween is coming up soon, do you usually participate in the celebrations? If so, what did you dress up as last year?
We used to, but we haven’t done it in about ten to twelve years.  We usually hide out in the basement with a good movie while the neighborhood trick-or-treats.  Last year, we were camping with some friends, and I was crying because it was so cold and because I’d just read Harry Potter for the first time and knew what happened to James and Lily that night…  Yeah.  This year, we’ll probably watch Harry Potter in the basement, for obvious reasons.  (That is, unless I can convince my parents to let my younger siblings dress up for the first time!)

10. How would you describe your fashion style?
Incredibly tasteful, but too broke to prove it.  My style board on Pinterest is a dream of what I want my future wardrobe to look like when I have more money to spend on clothes, but I’m working on it now, too.

11. Have you ever met a famous person? Who was it?
Do the Taylors from BlimeyCow count?  😛

I don’t keep up with too many bloggers, so I’ll be the rule-breaker and tag everybody reading this.  Reply to the questions below in the comments!

1.  What’s your Pinterest account link?  (I love following new people!)
2.  What are your thoughts on classic novels versus contemporary novels?
3.  Quick!  Name the three most recent movies you’ve watched and what you’ve thought of each of them.
4.  What grade are you in school (or how many years have you been done, you lucky duck) and what do you think of it?
5.  Speaking of school, what are your four best pieces of advice for everyone going in the grade below you?
6.  Who are some of your favorite bloggers?  (I also love finding new blogs to stalk!)
7.  Have you ever been to a concert?  If so, who did you see?  If not, do you ever want to go to one?
8.  Does your family have any interesting back-to-school/fall traditions?
9.  Who are five of your literary heroines?
10. What’s a random thing you have in your room that you maybe can’t remember how it got there but know it’d be weird if it left?  (Awkward way of phrasing that, but you know what I mean.)
11. Shameless selfish blog thing: What’s something you’d like to see more of on my blog?

Advertisements

LIE: you have a terrible existence if you don’t {xyz}.

Friends

A few months ago, a good friend introduced me to the show Friends.  Well, I need to back up.  Back when it was on TV, my parents used to watch it after they put us to bed and I would sneak out of my bed and watch it from the balcony.  They probably knew I was there, but I never got caught.  *sunglasses emoji*  I officially started watching it from Season One, Episode One back in May… and I’m hooked.

I recently had an almost-meltdown when I found out that my library didn’t have the season I was supposed to start next (seriously, what library buys the first six seasons of a TV show but skips over the fourth season?!), which resulted in taking total advantage of the Netflix free trial my mom got while we were at WITAlive and blowing through the episodes as quickly as I can.  (Don’t worry, I haven’t totally thrown away all of my free time – I’m using them as incentives to get my school done and it. is. working.)

As I fell in love with the show and the characters, I wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody under, say, eighteen, and I’m glad I didn’t watch it until now because I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much.  (I’m three steps behind all of the characters because I’m just about to graduate college and figure out what to do with my life, while they’re a few years out of college and still don’t have it all together.  It gives me so much hope.)  Still, I was so happy that I was finally able to understand references to one of America’s greatest sitcoms (“WE WERE ON A BREAK!”) and enjoy all of the jokes that the generation before me enjoyed.

I typically like to savor shows and books (which is probably why I still haven’t finished Boy Meets World), but for a while with Friends, I kind of felt like I had to catch up.  It felt like the entire world had seen this show… except me.  I love watching episodes in between intense study sessions and as rewards for submitting papers and reading classic novels that I struggled to get through (classics aren’t my cup of tea, tbh, but I’m trying to develop a taste for them) and even just to destress after a rough day.  However, I think part of my (mild) bingeing of the show had something to with the fact that I felt so behind.  I wasn’t pressured by my friend to watch it after she said, “You haven’t watched it yet?!” – instead, I pressured myself.

I do this a lot, especially with books, shows, music, movies.  Just the other day, I incredulously said to a friend, “Wait, you haven’t. read. Harry. Potter?!” even though I hadn’t read them for myself a year ago.  Oops.

Especially with more popular things, I think people pressure others into doing stuff – almost guilt-tripping them into thinking they’re missing out on something because they haven’t experienced it yet.  “Wait, you haven’t played Pokemon Go?!”  “You stopped watching Downton Abbey?!”  “You didn’t like Fault in Our Stars?!”  “Wait, you’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte?!”  “You haven’t seen all of Sherlock – or read the books?!  AND YOU CALL YOURSELF A FAN?!”  I’ve had all of these things said to me.  And, yes, I’m guilty of all of them.  I haven’t played Pokemon Go, I stopped watching DA in the middle of the third season (for no reason in particular except the fact that it’s a soap opera and I have enough drama in my own life), I don’t love TFIOS, I’ve never had a PSL, I haven’t seen the last season of Sherlock or read all of the stories.

Does that make me a terrible person, though?

Nope.

Listen, just because somebody hasn’t seen or done a popular thing, it doesn’t make them a lesser person.  Not doing something doesn’t invalidate someone’s existence.

We can’t do it all.  So why do we pressure ourselves and others?

Just like I thought I was “behind” because I hadn’t seen Friends or still haven’t seen all of Gilmore Girls (and will probably binge on that with my sisters over the next few months in preparation for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life) or haven’t been to ComicCon or DragonCon or GeekyCon, other people feel the same way.  We’re pressured by society to experience everything that’s popular, especially music and movies and TV shows and books, but we’re also pressured to get off our rear ends and do something because all of our friends’ Instagram feeds are full of pictures of mountains and iconic places in foreign countries.

Our lives are expected to look like everyone else’s.  In Friends, all of the characters have finished college (except maybe Phoebe), gotten a job, and found an apartment.  That’s what society expects of us twenty-somethings.  And that’s great and all of those things should be desired.  But I’m almost twenty-two and I’m still living at home while finishing my degree.  I know friends in their mid-twenties who are still living at home, too, and are getting higher degrees or don’t have “real” jobs.  And that’s okay.

Just because something is the norm or part of pop culture doesn’t mean it’s automatically a part of everyone’s lives.  And discovering that that thing isn’t a part of someone else’s life doesn’t make them any lesser of a person – and it doesn’t make you any more of a person because it’s part of yours.

My existence isn’t lesser because I’m not seeing the world like some of my friends are, just like some of my friends don’t have a less fulfilled life because they’re not getting a degree like I am.

Do. not. guilt-trip someone just because they’re not interested in what you or a lot of the world is interested in.  If they want to stay at home and lay on the floor and just listen to music, let them do it!  If they want to use the money they earn to travel, let them do it!

Obviously you should compromise with your friends sometimes and obviously you should get out of your comfort zone and do stuff (or sometimes just relax and forego doing stuff). But it’s never okay to make someone feel bad for what they are or aren’t interested in.

More than that, maybe this friend is on to something.  If they’ll let you, lie down on the floor with them.  Ask if you can go on their next road trip with them.  You may be surprised and find yourself interested in the stuff they like to do, too.

So what do you think?  Have you felt pressured to do something by your friends or society, or have you pressured someone else?  Did you end up liking it?  Did they?  Leave a comment and let’s talk!

{This blog post is sponsored in part by my college coursework, which was gracious enough to be easy and let me finish it by ten in the morning – something that hasn’t happened since I was in elementary school.  THANK YOU.}

lit’rally just some tumblr laughs for you.

I’m about to leave for an out-of-state wedding and don’t want to leave you guys with nothing for a few days, so here’s literally just some of the funniest things that have come across my Tumblr feed over the past few days.  (Sue me.)

(Sorry about the wonky formatting.  I’m too tired to fix it, lol.)

derp.jpg

this is the best thing that’s come out of the civil war premiere and if you don’t think so well fiGHT ME.

kanjiclub

bromance is real.jpg

this isn’t funny or anything i just love these two men so much

ggf

in the midst of all the SADNESS that happened this past week on GGF, THIS GEM HAPPENED.  mandy is a treasure.

dan&philllll.gif

look at these two derps.

feeeeeels.png

srsly tho

yes i made this.png

yes i made this.  i’ve suddenly become downton abbey trash and idk what to do with my life anymore. (except watch more downton abbey.  duh.)  (NO SPOILERS, GUYS.  I WILL SUE.)

such trash.png

srsly tho.

gen hux

domhnall gleeson as general hux is my one weakness.

how 'bout i do anyway.png

open the room.png

preju-DISS.png

Finally… this isn’t funny, but it’s two of my favorite things and just… G A H.

Okay, this was literally the easiest blog post I’ve ever done because it was just stealing other people’s stuff.  lolz.  Your regular posting will resume next week, including a GUEST POST!!!

“yer a wizard, harry.”

So this is the Harry Potter post you all have been waiting for!  Read it or don’t read it; comment or don’t comment.  I don’t care.  These are just my thoughts on the subject and the conclusions I’ve personally come to after deciding to read the Harry Potter series.  (Read my first post about it here, which I wrote soon after I finished the first three books.  I’ll probably unintentionally repeat some of what I said in that post, but it might be good for you {and me!} to compare my thoughts then with my thoughts now.)

All was well.

-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

harrypotter.jpgWith that quote, the book series that I’d been completely obsessed with for the past five months came to a close.  I shut the book, hugged it to my chest, and cried and cried and cried.  Not because it was sad or anything (okay, that was part of the reason), but because it was over.  This amazing book series that I’d fallen in love with had ended.

AND I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH ANYTHING ANYMORE.

I hadn’t even expected to get into it that much.  I only personally knew of a few people who had read it (and loved it).  Most of my friends were completely against it.  I had been against it, too.  Then I entered that awkward phase of my life when my dad started letting me make my own decisions about the stuff I let into my mind (and dealing with the consequences I bring on myself).  (If you’re not there yet, you’re probably looking forward to it.  It’s incredible but it’s also incredibly daunting.  Making these kinds of decisions for myself has been amazing… but it’s also been hard.  Sometimes I wish my dad would just tell me what to do sometimes.  It’s hard to know what’s good and bad when you’re just starting to decide where your convictions are.  As wise old Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  *end unintentional tangent*)

From everything I’d read about the series, I thought it was some kind of evil witchcraft book that made you become obsessed with (and possibly even unconsciously join) the occult.  I thought all of the characters were evil and knew that they were doing wrong things all the time.  Furthermore, I thought the series was dark and evil and had no redeemable qualities at all.  (It was, after all, about wizards and witches.)

harrypotter12Boy howdy, was I wrong.

This just goes to show that you should take everything with a grain of salt.  Either Edgar Allan Poe or Benjamin Franklin said, “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.”  Just like you should always double-check what you’re hearing in church with what the Bible actually says, you should probably align what people say with what God says because people are biased.

For the first twenty years of my life, Harry Potter wasn’t in the gray area at all.  In my mind, it was completely evil and there weren’t any good lessons to be learned from it.

Then, someone recommended it a year or so after my dad started letting me make decisions for myself, and I asked him if I could read it and he said yes and the rest is history.

I really can’t explain how much I loved this series.  I haven’t connected so much to a series in such a long time.  Also, believe it or not, this series was THE BEST “secular” series I’ve ever read because it had so many allusions to Biblical lessons.  (Notice that I said “allusion” rather than “allegory.”  The Harry Potter series is not an allegory and should never be called one.)  In some respects, it was even better than some of the explicitly Christian books I’ve read because it contained everything I’ve always wanted from Christian fiction but never get.  I kid you not.

So why did I love it so much?  Well, sit back and I’ll tell you.

The Magic

harrypotter6Before I get into all of the amazing things about it, let me clear something up.  The Harry Potter series does not have real-life, occult magic in it.  Occult magic (such as séances and witchcraft rituals and demonic powers) very much exists and we should definitely stay away from it.  However, John Granger says in his book Finding God in Harry Potter, “The magic in Harry Potter is no more likely to encourage real-life witchcraft than time travel in science fiction novels encourages readers to seek passage to previous centuries.”

Others have explained the type of magic in Harry Potter better than I can, but my (extremely simplified) explanation of the difference between the magic in Harry Potter and the very real, very evil magic in the world, is that, rather learning how to do something that is, until that time, unknown to them (as with Wiccan rituals), the characters in this series merely learn how to control something that has always been a part of them.  They didn’t have to learn how to invite the magic into them or whatever – it was always a part of them.  (Much like Elsa from Frozen, whose icy powers were never explained other than the fact that “she’s always had them,” and Mary Poppins, who can make toys and bedsheets do her bidding by snapping her fingers and can fly around the world and jump into chalk drawings.)   For instance, in the very first book, pre-Hogwarts Harry misuses his gift because he’s angry at his cousin.  Later in the series, it’s revealed that Tom Riddle did the same thing to some of his fellow orphans at the orphanage.

My favorite explanation came from a Christianity Today article entitled “Redeeming Harry Potter.”

If Rowling intended Harry Potter as Wiccan propaganda, I’d be the first to jump ship. But the author is emphatic: she doesn’t believe in magic. So how can she be promoting witchcraft as a religion? Instead, she uses magic as a vehicle for the plot—a literary device for the story’s themes. … Harry wasn’t taught how to be a wizard, he was taught how to control something that was already inside of him. He doesn’t invoke dark powers or evil spirits to do his bidding, he simply uses his genetic abilities (much like a superpower) for good. C.S. Lewis, in defending the “magic” in his Narnia books, calls this “Incantational Magic.” … Ultimately, the source of the characters’ powers isn’t really addressed, and that’s fine for the purpose of the story. Rowling places far more emphasis on how the individuals choose to use their powers and abilities in relation to others. Magic has traditionally been used in this way as a metaphor in classic literature, as something that can hold meaning in our own lives.

Now, obviously, if you’ve got a problem with where the magic comes from, you’ll have a problem with the books (which is the case with some of my relatives).  But since I’ve researched J.K. Rowling (aka Jo)’s intentions with the magic (she only uses it as a plot device and she doesn’t believe in the occult {read this article if you don’t believe me}), and I know she often gets annoyed when people accuse her of putting the occult in there.  So that’s good enough for me.

(Side Note: The first book is only called The Sorcerer’s Stone in the US.  Everywhere else, it’s The Philosopher’s Stone.  The only reason it was changed in the US is because the US publisher, Arther Levine, thought that no one would buy a children’s book with “philosophy” in the title.)

Good vs. Evil

One of the greatest strengths of the Potter series is its treatment of right and wrong.  Rowling loves playing with duality in the characters, showing that we’re all capable of good or evil, yet always clearly distinguishing between the two.  Things aren’t always as they seem in Harry Potter, but we’re always clear on right and wrong.  It is, in fact, a key line to look for in Goblet of Fire, when wise mentor Professor Dumbledore explains to Harry that he will face the choice between “doing what is right and what is easy.” (Russ Breimeier, Redeeming Harry Potter)

harrypotter11This was seriously one of my favorite aspects of the books.  As John Granger explains in Finding God in Harry Potter, the battle in this series is between “good guys who serve truth, beauty, and virtue, and bad guys who lust after power and private gain.”  The central conflictis between good and bad, specifically between the descendants Godric Gryffindor (Harry) and Salazar Slytherin (Voldemort).  (Jo hasn’t confirmed that Harry’s a descendant of Gryffindor, but I think it’s a given and I’m betting it’ll be revealed in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.)  The symbolism of this is all over the place.  Just look at Gryffindor’s symbol (a lion) versus Slytherin’s (a snake).  Sound familiar?

But, just like in real life, the good guys aren’t all good (e.g. Peter Pettigrew, a Gryffindor) and the bad guys aren’t all bad (e.g. Reglulus Black and Draco Malfoy, both Slytherins and, um, hello, Severus Snape).  Unlike a lot of the books I read, none of the characters are perfect.  There isn’t a Mary Sue or a Gary Stu to be had in the entire series.  Every single character has their faults.  For instance, Harry idolizes his father, thinking him to be the model of perfection, and it’s only when he relives one of Snape’s memories that he realizes this is not the case.  Ron is a bit of a selfish brat at times, Hermione can be unforgiving, and even Harry himself performed a few Unforgivable Curses (the Cruciatus Curse three times and the Imperius Curse once).  Even Dumbledore, who is one of the wisest characters I’ve ever come across in any of the books I’ve ever read, definitely has his faults.

Like every human being, they struggle with how to act in situations.  As Dumbledore tells Harry once, “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”  Even though they’re conflicted regarding decisions most of the time, Harry, Ron, and Hermione always do the right thing.  Even Neville my precious cinnamon roll child, who has the most reason to hate Voldemort (whose underling tortured his parents almost to death and was successful in the destruction of their minds), still fights for what’s right and never acts out in anger.

However, the lines between good and evil are clearly drawn.  Whenever Voldemort was in any of the books, I couldn’t help but feel utter horror at everything he did.  As we learn in the last two books, Voldemort is only able to do everything he does because he’s willing to kill – “the supreme act of evil,” as someone else in the series defines it.  “That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend.  Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing.  Nothing.”  As Dumbledore tells Harry in Deathly Hallows, “Do not pity the dead, Harry.  Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.”  His incapacity to understand love is his ultimate downfall.

Like Tolkien, Rowling’s depiction of evil is incredibly Augustinian. Early Church father St. Augustine defines evil as a perversion of the good. He also emphasizes that evil is not an equal match of the Good, but far weaker. As something good becomes twisted and warped, it moves closer to nonbeing. Lord Voldemort is really a perfect example of this. As he becomes more deeply entrenched in evil, he becomes less and less human, less and less alive. The acts of murder and cruelty he carries out literally tear apart his soul making his being less whole. He is a shadow of a man. The quest for power without goodness is truly a journey toward pathetic and grotesque brokenness as is portrayed in the King’s Cross chapter in The Deathly Hallows when Harry is face to face with a visual depiction of Voldemort’s soul. Like the White Witch in Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, evil according to the Potter books cannot even comprehend the great strength of love and is ultimately destroyed by it.  (Haley Stewart, Why Your Kids Need to Read Harry Potter)

Which brings me to my next point…

Love

harrypotter2In stark contrast to this is the love that is shown to Harry and everyone else on the good side.  In the very first chapter of the very first book, there is an example of John 15:13 love.  Harry’s mother, Lily, sacrificed her life for Harry’s, which is the reason he’s still alive in the beginning of the first book.  You don’t need a neon sign to see it.  Dumbledore tells Harry in The Philosopher’s Stone, “Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”  Later, in Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore explains, “But I knew too where Voldemort was weak. And so I made my decision. You would be protected by an ancient magic of which he knows, which he despises, and which he has always, therefore, underestimatedto his cost. I am speaking, of course, of the fact that your mother died to save you. She gave you a lingering protection he never expected, a protection that flows in your veins to this day.”

This John 15:13 love is repeated over and over and over again in the books.  Harry risks his life for Ginny Weasley in the second book, then again in the last book.

Harry is shown love, too, by the Weasleys.  Since he doesn’t have a loving family, they take him in over the holidays almost every year so he doesn’t have to go home to the Dursleys.  They treat him like he’s a member of the family, both by giving him gifts at Christmas (which, as explained in the first book, are his first Christmas gifts ever {which made me totally sob}) and making him help clean their house for a wedding in Deathly Hallows.

harrypotter10.jpgInstead of going on and on (trust me, I can), I’ll just highlight one more of my favorite examples of love in this series.  In the sixth book, one of the characters has his face slightly disfigured by a werewolf.  His mother is afraid that his fiance won’t marry him anymore because of the scarring.  She insists that she will, which makes another character, Tonks, turn to the man she loves, Remus Lupin (a werewolf) my other precious cinnamon roll child, and say, “You see!  She still wants to marry him, even though he’s been bitten!  She doesn’t care!”  Lupin insists that the cases are different, but Tonks shuts him down.  “But I don’t care either, I don’t care!  I’ve told you a million times!”  (And then Lupin insists that she needs someone “young and whole” and Mrs. Weasley says “But she wants you.  And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so.”  And then I started crying again.)  Tonks insists that she loves Remus for who he is, even though he thinks he’s unable to be loved.  Which just goes to show that there will always be someone out there who will love you, despite how unlovable you think you are.  (#thingsHarryPottertaughtme)

Themes

Dang, y’all.  The themes!  Love was just the beginning.

Somebody asked me via text what I thought of the series and what I learned from it, so I let them have it.  Here’s what I said:

Well I love the importance the books place on joy and that the act of simply being happy can overcome anything (“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one remembers to turn on the light“) and the amazing lessons of friendship and loyalty and “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live” and HELLO the importance of living with love (bc living without love ended up being Voldemort’s downfall). There’s such an emphasis on family, too, and the importance family can have on your life. Harry was raised by his relatives who didn’t love him at all and didn’t realize that there were good people in the world who loved their families until he met the Weasleys. And everybody always points out how Hermione is such a bookworm and a study freak but it’s true and I kinda wish I’d had her as a role model when I was younger. And HELLO the many many maaaaany instances of John 15:13 love that is praised over and over and over. And Dumbledore’s insistence that even though something’s happening in your head, it doesn’t make it any less real. And his other words of wisdom to Harry that we should pity those who live without love. And Sirius’s quote that says something like that we all live with darkness and light inside of us and it’s the part that we act on that defines us. And then there’s my favorite character, who taught me that no matter what you think is wrong with you, someone will always be there to love you despite it.  And then the friendships in the stories that only grow deeper through trials and the love that’s shown to everyone and I don’t even know I just have so many feelings.

(Yeah.  Don’t ask me questions like that {especially via text} if you don’t want me to fangirl all over you.)

In addition to all of that…

harrypotter13.jpgLaughter – Rowling places a distinct importance of laughter and happiness in the books.  Someone on Tumblr said, “Happiness isn’t just a feeling—it’s a weapon. Look at how harry and his friends fight: with riddikulus, laughter stymies a creature made of fear; with expecto patronum, the very memory of happiness beats back the grim forces of depression.” (See the rest of their post here.)  (Also, may I just add that Lupin originally taught Harry and the gang those spells and I just think that’s significant.)

Truth – These books also have so many good lessons about truth and the consequences of lying.  In the sixth book, Harry finds a spellbook owned by the Half-Blood Prince.  Hermione is against him using any of the spells written in the book because he doesn’t know who the owner really is, and when Harry ignores her warning, it almost leads to death for one of his classmates.  As Dumbledore says in the first book, the truth “is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

harrypotter4.jpgCourage – Harry and his friends learn so much about bravery in this series.  They face many shiver-inducing circumstances, but they don’t back down.  (Well, {spoiler} except for Ron That One Time in Deathly Hallows, but he comes back with a firmer resolve to be brave.)  Especially Neville, who learns the most about bravery from book one.  (“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” – Albus Dumbledore)

Society – I was watching a scene from Half-Blood Prince and this comment really struck me: “Draco Malfoy’s character just shows how society shapes an individual. He was born to a racist father, and spent his childhood in the midst of people who considered Muggles [normal people without magic] to be beneath them. He was taught that money and power was everything from his childhood. Considering such an upbringing, he actually turned out to be a real gem of a person.”  (And I think his character was more dimensional in the last three movies than in the last two books.  In the books, he was scared of what he’d promised to do, but we see it more in the movies and the inner turmoil he suffers through.)

The Value of Human Life – Just like Harry’s mother sacrifices her life for Harry’s, the value of others’ lives is explicitly shown.  Nobody was worth less than anyone else.  Even Hermione fought hard for the freedom of house elves, even though they were literally made to be servants.  Every death is accounted for and mourned (which leads to a lot of sobbing, both from the characters and the reader).  “We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”  (Kingsley Shacklebolt, Deathly Hallows.)

harrypotter3.gif

In Conclusion

“Wherever we see beauty, light, truth, goodness, we see Christ. Do we think him so small that he couldn’t invade a series of books about a boy wizard? Do we think him cut off from a story like this, as if he were afraid, or weak, or worried? … The Harry Potter story is subject to him, too, and Jesus can use it however he wants. In my case, Jesus used it to help me long for heaven, to remind me of the invisible world, to keep my imagination active and young, and he used it to show me his holy bravery in his triumph over the grave.” (Andrew Peterson, Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me)

So, yeah, I did love this series.  I’ll probably read the books again soon, and I know I’ll watch the movies again soon.  (I’ve seen some of them multiple times because I love them so much – especially Prisoner of Azkaban, which was my favorite book before I fell in love with Deathly Hallows.)

I’ll be the first to admit that the series has its faults.  The Voldemort scenes repulsed me because he’s so evil (which all great villains are supposed to be).  A few of the characters got on my nerves (looking at you, Ron).  And a lot of the characters died, which is definitely a fault (*weeps silently*).

But it was also amazing.  And I’ve already gone into too much detail about why I thought it was so amazing, but I’ll say it again – IT WAS AMAZING.  That was half of the reason why I cried when it was over.  Because it was over, yes, but also because it was so phenomenal.  The story of how Jo wrote it still blows my mind and inspires me to write engaging and complex literature, too.

The thing I loved the most about it, though, was the fact that it inspired me to fight for good.  In his book, Finding God in Harry Potter, John Granger says that the series “fulfills our God-implanted longing to resist evil and serve the good.”

I can’t agree more.

harrypotter14.jpg

DIDNEY WORL.

Just a quick PSA to say that I’ll be out of town for a few days and, thus, no posts.

Where am I going?

9b8c30efd961e383270a08d923a4bddd

Seeing as I haven’t been in literally fifteen years… I’M PRETTY EXCITED.

If you know anything about me, you’ll know I’m a pretty huge Disney fan.  I can quote the movies by heart, sing all the songs (mostly in key), and, if someone has a stupid different opinion on a Disney movie than I do, I’ll debate them ’til dawn.  I’ve been wanting to go again for years now, and I take total credit for begging my parents and pushing them over the edge until they finally caved.

We got tickets for Christmas, but didn’t really start planning ’til about a week or two ago.  (Whoops.)  I’ve started planning my Disneybounding outfits (as seen on my “My Style” Pinterest board – sorry for spamming y’all), and I’ve cleared my camera cards and my phone for pictures galore.  (And, fyi, my Instagram will be Disney-themed for the next week.)

I’m bringing my laptop, so you may see a post or two this week if I have the energy, but we’ll see.  I’ll be moderating comments at least, so feel free to browse the archives (see the orange tab on the left side) and leave comments galore – I love them!

Regardless, this blog will be back in action on the first, starting with my post-Harry Potter post!  Sorry it took me so long to write it.  People (not on this blog, but elsewhere) kind of dissected the first post, so I wanted this one to be better.  (And, obvs, since I’m defending my love for it, I want it to be PERFECT.)  I decided against doing a fangirling post because – from what I gather – most of you haven’t read it, and anything I’d say would be spoilery.

And speaking of new posts, is there anything you guys want me to post about?  I have a few other posts planned, but I usually do a lot of the spur-of-the-moment posting, which isn’t great for planning.  (And my inner control freak needs to have things planned.)  I’d like to post things that you guys would like to read, obviously, so any input would be more than welcome!  What do you guys want to see?  Scenes from my writing?  Movie reviews?  Pictures from my insanely awesome personal life?  Book reviews?  Something else that isn’t on my radar?  LET ME KNOW!

bcd114a4b1eaef089376522d61680661

twelve couples i’ll always be in love with.

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought for a good five minutes about what I wanted to write about today.  I usually do a post on contentment and singleness, but I think I’ve said all I need to on the subject.  (See those posts here, here, and here – all of which, I realize after re-reading all of them, bemoan the infamous Valentine’s Day Banquet of ’13 – LOL.  They’re actually pretty decent, too, so if you want to hear my thoughts on contentment, they’re worth a read.)

But today is not about being single.  Today is about relationships.  And if we’re not in relationships, we can at least obsess over those who are, right?

twelve couples i'll always be in love with.jpg

Today, I’ve decided to write about book and movie couples that are in love and that I am in love with (because that’s way less depressing than dwelling on how single I am, lol).  (Just kidding; I’m actually totally content right now.  So yay.)

These aren’t couples who are just cute together (because I could write about cute fictional couples for dayzzz).  These are couples who have stuck together through thick and thin and love each other despite the trials they go through.  They fight for their relationship and defy the odds.  They may not have fallen in love at first sight, but their relationship lasted because of the circumstances that brought them together and kept them together.

In no particular order (cuz you guys should know by now that I hate picking favorites), here are the twelve fictional couples that have basically defined all of my relationship goals.

Honorable Mentions:
Lulu and Liam {The Little Women Letters}
Mac and Rose {Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom}
Flynn and Rapunzel {Tangled}
Cath and Levi {Fangirl}
Katniss and Peeta {The Hunger Games Trilogy}
Kathleen and Joe {You’ve Got Mail}
Alexander and Eliza {Hamilton and also a real-life couple}
Roy and Dale {the Roy Rogers movies and also a real-life couple}

(And Clintasha would be right at the top but Joss woN’T STOP BLOWING HOLES IN MY SHIPS.  GAH.  *Hulks out*)

Shirtbert {Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe} | Anne of Green Gables

couples1

These two.  GOSH, these two.  Ever since they first met in Anne of Green Gables, I knew they’d fall in love.  Except Anne was so blind to how much Gil loved her (and she was so deluded about what love really is) that it didn’t happen for a while.  *shakes head*  Silly Anne.  I mean, the guy gave up his position at a school for her!  He also saved her in a boat and NUMEROUS other amazing things.  Together, they make such a great couple.

“Anne, you have tricked something out of that imagination of yours that you call romance. Have you forgotten how he gave up the Avonlea school for you so that you could stay here with me? He picked you up everyday in his carriage so that you could study your courses together. Don’t toss it away for some ridiculous ideal that doesn’t exist.”

Copanga {Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence} | Boy Meets World

couples6

OKAY.  I’ve been a huge fan of Boy Meets World for about two and a half years now (although it seems like longer) and their relationship is just so. many. goals.  They were friends for years and years before they got into an official relationship in the second season.  Their relationship withstood high school, the first two years of college, three break-ups (not including Topanga’s parents’ divorce).  Fourteen years later, in Girl Meets World, they’re still together and just as much in love as they were when they first started dating.

“Over half of all marriages fail.  It’s even worse for people our age.”
“Every statistic that you throw at me is going to be about other people.  I don’t care about other people – I care about you and me!  If every marriage failed except one, I’d guarantee that one would be ours.”

Laurie x Jo {Theodore Lawrence and Josephine March} | Little Women

couples2.jpg

Okay, this is the only couple in this entire post who didn’t actually end up together.  (Jo and I may agree on everything else, okay, and I’m sorry, but I’ll ship this ’til the day I die.)  From the start, their friendship just screamed “ROMANCE!” and it seriously irked me that they didn’t end up together.  Because they totally should have.  They were so alike in so many ways, and they may have fought a lot, but what couple doesn’t?!  Ugh.  Anyway, I ship them like there’s no tomorrow.

“I have loved you since the moment I clapped eyes on you. What could be more reasonable than to marry you?”  (THAT’S WHAT I SAID.)

Knighthouse {Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley} | Emma

couples5.jpg

Emma is my favorite Jane Austen story because the love interests shaped each other more than any other of her couples.  (Did Darcy have the influence on Lizzie that Knightley did on Emma?  NO.  I rest my case.)  I love stories that do this so. much.  Why is a person in your life romantically if not to mold you into someone better?  Food for thought.  If ever a couple was destined to be together, it was Emma and Knightley.  Even though he’s like seventeen years older than her.

“So, tell me, have I no chance of succeeding?  My dearest Emma, for that is what you always have been and you always will be, my most beloved Emma.  I cannot make speeches.  If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more, but you know what I am.  I have lectured you and scolded you and you have born it as no other woman would have.”

(I also desperately love Cher and Josh from Clueless, and their relationship is defined so well and I love them and baby Paul Rudd is just the sweetest little cinnamon roll.)

Julie x Eric // Julia x Paul {Julie and Eric Powell, and Julia and Paul Child} | Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia.jpg

These two couples are new additions to my stock of Relationship Goals, but I knew they had been added the first time I watched Julie and Julia.  I love the distinction between the two relationships!  Julie and Eric are blissful newlyweds, and Julia and Paul have been married for several years but they’re even more in love than when they first got married.  When I first watched the movie, I told my sister, “Julie and Eric have what I want my newlywed married life to look like, and Julia and Paul have what I want my married-for-thirty-years married life to look like.”  #goals

“You are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life.”

Steggy {Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter} | Captain America: The First Avenger

couples8.jpg

Er. mah. gursh.  This is definitely the most tragic couple in my entire list.  They loved each other so much and they didn’t end up together (not married, at least) and that just breaks my heart.  Peggy loved Steve just based on his character, before he was the insanely muscular dude he is halfway through the movie, and if that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.  As soon as Steve said his “I’m waiting for the right partner” line, I was hooked.  (And so was Peggy.)  If ever a couple deserved to be together, it’s Steve and Peggy.

“I’m gonna need a rain check on that dance.”
“All right. A week next Saturday.  At The Stork Club.”
“You’ve got it.”
“Eight o’clock on the dot. Don’t you dare be late. Understood?”
“You know, I still don’t know how to dance.”
“I’ll show you how. Just be there.”

Anastasia x Dimitri {Anastasia Romanova and Dimitri Sudayev} | Anastasia

couples9

When Anastasia and Dimitri first meet, they’re both really just using each other to accomplish their personal goals.  It’s hate at first sight.  When Anastasia and Dimitri have their first angered exchange (“Do you really think I’m royalty?” “You know I do!” “THEN STOP BOSSING ME AROUND.”) and Anastasia sticks her tongue out at him, I’m always just like, “Ohhhh, you two are gonna have it so bad.”  And they do.  They’re always slightly at odds, but in an endearing way.  In the end, Dimitri sacrifices his ambition to find the lost Russian princess for Anastasia (who, spoiler, is the lost princess) and they end up eloping and it’s just beautiful.

“That, uh, that dress looks really good on you.”
“Do you think so?”
“Yeah. I mean, it looked nice on the hanger but it’s even better on you. Y-you, you should wear it!”
“I am wearing it!”
“Oh, oh yes, I was just, um, trying to give you a… a…”
“Compliment?”
“Yeah.”

Robin x Marian {Robin Hood and Lady Marian Fitzwalter} | Robin Hood (1932)

couples10.jpg

I grew up with the 1932 version of Robin Hood (here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it), and I’ve always loved the relationship that Robin and Marian have.  There’s just something about a classic tale of the love between a knight and his lady that I fall for every time. She’s hesitant at first, and he’s madly in love at first sight.  He wins her love by being the dashing hero he is, and she falls for him.  (And then, in the original tale, he dies.  I like this version better – they ride off into the sunset and it’s wonderful.)  It’s just a classic tale of love and I love it muchly.

“Tell me: when you are in love, is it hard to think of anybody but one person?”
“Yes, indeed, m’lady, and sometimes it’s a bit of trouble sleeping.”
“I know! But it’s a nice kind of not sleeping!”
“Yes. And it affects your appetite, too. Not that I’ve noticed it’s done that to you, ‘cept when he was in the dungeon waiting to be hanged.”
“And does it make you want to be with him all the time?”
“Yes. And when he’s with you, your legs are as weak as water. Now, tell me, m’lady: when he looks at you, do you feel a kind of pricky feeling, like goosey pimples running all up and down your spine?”
{Marian blushes}
“Then there’s not a doubt of it!”
“A doubt of what?”
{Robin swings in through the window where he was eavesdropping} “That you’re in love!”

George x Mary {George Bailey and Mary Hatch} | It’s a Wonderful Life

couples11.jpg

I’ve been in love with George and Mary ever since I watched It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time (which was so many years ago that I can’t even remember when it was).  We watch the movie every Christmas Eve and I’ve always loved watching George and Mary’s relationship start to build from their childhood to thirty years (and four kids) later.  They’re still so in love and love each other so much despite all of the hardships they go through.  Their trials bring them closer together and idk but that’s what I want more than anything else.  #actualrelationshipgoals

“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”
“I’ll take it. Then what?”
“Well, then you can swallow it, and it’ll all dissolve, see… and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair… am I talking too much?”

Percy x Marguerite {Sir Percival Blakeney and Marguerite St. Just} | The Scarlet Pimpernel

couples12.jpg

M’KAY.  The first time I read The Scarlet Pimpernel (and then binge-read most of the other Scarlet Pimpernel books), I knew I’d ship Percy and Marguerite ’til my dying days.  And, honestly, their relationship is one of the most brutal that I’ve ever seen.  Marguerite loves him even when he thinks she betrayed the St. Cyrs.  And then (in the book, at least) he risked his life to save her (just like he does for others *sheds a single tear*), and it always makes me cry so many happy tears.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Sir Percy.”
“This beholder is enchanted.  If I were to tell you that I adore you, would you have me do so stintingly?”
Adore me?”
“Or would you have me declare it as I feel it?  With all my heart?”
“But you can’t be serious – you know nothing about me!”
“Exactly so.  Which is why I yearn to know everything.  You must tell me all about yourself, in every detail, but oh so slowly, so very slowly, so that it takes a very, very long time.”
“I don’t know whether you’re mad or…”
“Desperately in love?  ‘Tis all the same.”

Remadora {Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks} | Harry Potter

couples13

This one’s a new one, too, but it’s impacted me just as much as the others.  When we first meet Remus Lupin, he feels worthless and unlovable.  Tonks thinks otherwise, and loves him despite what he is.  He protests, but she loves him even more.  Remus and Tonks’ love taught me that there will always be someone to love you, despite the circumstances and despite everything you think that’s wrong with you.  *cries many tears*

“You see!” said a strained voice. Tonks was glaring at Lupin. “She still wants to marry him, even though he’s been bitten! She doesn’t care!”
“It’s different,” said Lupin, barely moving his lips and looking suddenly tense. “Bill will not be a full werewolf. The cases are completely-”
“But I don’t care either, I don’t care!” said Tonks, seizing the front of Lupin’s robes and shaking them. “I’ve told you a million times….”
And the meaning of Tonk’s Patronus and her mouse-colored hair, and the reason she had come running to find Dumbledore when she had heard a rumor someone had been attacked by Greyback, all suddenly became clear to Harry; it had not been Sirius that Tonks had fallen in love with after all.

Finally, to all of the above couples, here are some wise words of advice from Josh Dun.

“we need stories.”

I woke up this morning to find out that Alan Rickman had died.

Gosh.

I first discovered Alan when I watched him win over Marianne as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility.  To be honest, I didn’t love him all that much, but he eventually won me over.  My mom has been a big fan of his work for forever.  I became a huge fan of him after watching the Harry Potter movies.  He was a brilliant Snape, and nobody could’ve done better.

tumblr_o0y5pg2ZQx1qc2fi0o1_540

The news that he had died hit me even harder than it probably would have because I was already grieving finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night.

giphy

I honestly can’t process the Harry Potter series.

As I finished the last few hundred pages last night (which I’d put off simply because I didn’t want the series to be over), I cried and cried and cried.  I cried over characters, cried over subplots, cried over symbolism, cried over deaths, and cried over how amazing it was.  Then I closed the book, curled up, and cried because it was over.

tumblr_m8c0siwzBE1ro4l1eo4_250

The thing about the series that I just love (besides how amazing it was) is the fact that it touched me (and SO MANY PEOPLE) so much.  Out of the last thirty pictures in my phone, a good twenty of them are of pages of Deathly Hallows – pictures of quotes that I want to write out later so I can remember them.

And listen – amazing doesn’t even describe it.  Outside of explicitly Christian fiction, I have never read any book that echoes the Great Story more.  I’d say it even rivals a lot of the Christian fiction I’ve read.  So much symbolism and morals in not just this last book, but all of them…  GAH.  I can’t.

tumblr_lutgjjrOJc1r2m0aq.gif

Speaking of Alan Rickman, these words of his have been running through my mind.

And it’s a human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible.
-Alan Rickman (2/21/46 – Always)

Gosh.

Anyway.

Even though I really can’t say anything about this series besides ASDFGHJKL!$%&!^%!*!, I’m working on a follow-up post to my initial Harry Potter post.  Would anybody like to read it?  I think the only disclaimer I’d like to give is that obviously since I loved the series, that’s going to bias my “review” (if I can even write a review, gosh).  I won’t try to challenge your anti-Harry convictions… but I’ll probably fangirl a lot – and if that offends you, don’t read it.  (Unless nobody wants to read it, then I won’t write it and I’ll keep all of my feels bottled up.)

b73db394_tumblr_inline_mp08tgK2SG1qz4rgp.xxxlarge.gif

words of wisdom from wolowitz.