Posts Tagged ‘Nostalgia’

Stephanie and I have been great friends ever since she ditched her other, lamer friends to hang out with me in high school. We were separated when it came time to go to university, but we were both majoring in English Literature, so we were still together in our hearts—and also over email when we needed fresh eyes for an essay or advice about grammar.

Nerd Alert!

Most of our emails, though, had to do with the latest teaser-trailers posted on Mugglenet or midnight-inspired theories about plot twists or possible character deaths in the Harry Potter novels. Yes, our emails had subject lines like “DO NOT OPEN TILL YOU HAVE FINISHED HARRY POTTER 6”. Basically, we were (are) big nerds—but as Stephanie has often reminded me, a nerd is just someone who likes something a lot and isn’t afraid to show it.

Chloë, we will have to have a talk soon about the Harry Potter movie.  I’ll call you next week.

—Stephanie (November 2005)

"Man… that time we fought Lord Voldemort… Wow. That was a tough one."

[Our friend Mia Photoshopped—I mean took—this photo of the three (six) of us. I’m Ron, Mia is Hermione and Stephanie is Harry. Neville is Neville, Ginny is Ginny and Luna is Luna.]

It’s either cute or sad that telephone calls between Stephanie and I were prompted by special occasions which, by our tacit definition, included birthdays, New Year’s, and the release of Harry Potter books and movies. From December 2006:

Chloë: It’s that time of year again: the time of year in which, lacking schoolwork, I am reminded about the world of Harry Potter. […] This article is kind of interesting. Don’t worry, I spent less than twenty minutes on this website. Healthy suppression. Let’s talk on the phone sometime. It’s the time of year for that, too.

Stephanie: I thought about analyzing the new title, and then I thought: “%$#* off, analysis.  I’m so sick of you”.  [Editor’s note: I remind you that we were English majors.] So no analysis here.  Decent title, I suppose.  That’s as far as I’ll go.  I really liked the editorial.  It seemed plausible.  That’s the way I like my editorials.

You see, there was something special about reading Harry Potter before we knew what was going to happen. We were taking part in a pop-culture phenomenon as it was happening. In Stephanie’s words, “it’s not as fun to read things when all the books are out because there’s no speculation; you just immediately move on to the next one and find out what happens”.

Don’t worry: we weren’t fanatics. Our multitude of hip friends, fearing while reading this that they might have to disown us, can rest assured that our degree of participation in fandom was healthy and sane; neither of us ever doodled “[our first name] Weasley” in our lecture notes or—reputation forbid—published any fanfiction online (or have I…). I was, however, heavily involved in the organization of a private theatre screening and dinner for 56 friends on the opening night of HP6….

Now, at long last, our time has come. Stephanie and I write for the same blog, so we can do WHATEVER WE WANT. And we can do it in ALL-CAPS!

Thus, on this festive occasion—the imminent release (on Friday) of the second-last HP movie—we take a moment to share a few highlights, all verbatim, from the emails that kept our friendship together for four years. Laugh, cry, wince out of pity.

On the Marauders’ Improbable Use of Nicknames:

[Editor’s Note: We do not generally condone the gratuitous use of exclamation marks, but there are rare exceptions.]

Stephanie: I was wondering if maybe all of the Marauders’ names are significant somehow, but then all I could think of for the names James and Peter is that I think they were in the Bible […].  Also, can I talk about how dorky it is that they called each other “the Marauders” and “Moony”, etc?  Dorky, I can’t get over it.  It just doesn’t coincide with the fact that they’re supposed to be the cool guys.  Although I still kinda love it because of my love for dorkiness, as a fellow dork myself. Evidenced by how I just wrote a rather lengthy email all about Harry Potter. Write back!

Chloë: I agree that the cool guys would never have called each other “the marauders” etc.: “hey padfoot, check out this awesome quidditch move”; “hey prongs, that girl (Lily) is totally checking you out”. It would never happen. Lily would just be like “dude, you’re calling each other lame nicknames. We’re done here.” Well, maybe she wouldn’t be so judgmental; she had class, after all. Personally, I would never have chosen James. He really was too smug. I would have gone after Moony; “he’s straight-laced, but there’s something mysterious about him…”.

Stephanie: I hope there is something mysterious about Lupin, but I have a weird feeling that it pretty well ends with how he was a werewolf.  He seems like too big a part of book three to really play another big part in a future book.  Anyway, soon we won’t have to speculate anymore!!!!!!

Chloë: I meant that as a student in his class I would have thought he was nice but mysterious. The mysterious thing is that he’s a werewolf, which is not a mystery from Harry’s point of view. And yes: only 19 days left!!!

On the Death of Professor Dumbledore:

First let me proclaim unequivocally that we predicted this. In fact, Stephanie accurately predicted a number of things in the following email message of June 2005:

I’m worried about who they are going to kill off in 6, mostly worried that it is going to be Dumbledore.  The other thing that I was thinking is that maybe it’ll be Lupin, because then both Harry’s father and all of Harry’s father’s friends will be dead, and the only father figure still available for Harry is Dumbledore, and then maybe he’ll die in book 7. That is kind of a far-out theory though; the only reason I think it could be possible is because, like Sirius, he has trouble functioning in society.  Plus he could be a target because of the whole “half-breed” thing.  I don’t know, I’m mostly rambling.

Way to go, Doig. Way. To. Go. Turns out your “ramblings” were preamblings, which is not even a word.

Later, after the fact, we mourned:

Stephanie: Book 6 was so good!  I am a little upset that our prediction of Dumbledore’s death came true […] but I could kinda see it coming, because it seemed like he was consciously passing on a lot of his knowledge to Harry—and if he was doing that then he couldn’t live. This book was definitely funny, which kind of surprised me because of the relative absence of Fred and George, who are usually the funny guys.

I was also very upset about Snape. Right to the end I thought maybe he would turn out to be on Dumbledore’s side, so it was disturbing when he wasn’t.

Chloë: I think I knew it had to be Dumbledore [who was going to die], because he’s on the cover and if he’s on the cover this late in the series, then it’s a last-jaunt/homage shot. Nonetheless, I am still very much torn up about it. I have never cried so much from reading a book as I have tonight. I had recurring bouts of tears throughout all of the last three chapters. I pretty much started right back up again whenever Hagrid did.

Snape, that traitorous bastard! Forget Voldemort, I’m going after Snivellus. I was hoping that chapter two was just a red herring, like always, but my hopes were crushed. I’m clearly getting too personally involved.

On the Comic Relief:

Can I just say that things would have been significantly more awesome if prediction (B) (below) had come true. I guess you could count the extendable ears, but that seems kind of lame.

I won’t tell you which one of us wrote this, or the next few, because it doesn’t matter.

The highlight of HP5 is most definitely FRED AND GEORGE. I love them. I think that there are two options for Fred and George: A) The
joke shop was a way to write them out of the action, or B) Something they invent for the purpose of hilarity will have a key use in the
“war” as weaponry/distraction/etc.

On Romance:

I am still angry with Ronald and his stupid foray into LAVENDER. Whatever, Ron. Poor Hermione, suffering through it all year. Also, the Lupin and Tonks match-up is so dumb. Implausible.

On the Foil:

Draco, come back! You can still redeem yourself!

On Magical (and Muggle) Dictatorships:

Doesn’t it seem that the Order is always excessively out-numbered? How is it that they ever win? Lord Thingy would totally win if it came down to numbers. On a related note: I was thinking about evil empires, particularly in the context of what the wizarding world / world in general would be like if Voldemort actually got what he wanted (although the same question applies to Darth Vader’s empire, Hitler’s Germany, etc.), and I just don’t understand the appeal. What do the Death Eaters think it would be like for them if their side won? Are they all just completely deluded/insane/stupid? It would be terrible! Mostly, WTF is up with people like Snape and Lucius? (I discount Bellatrix on counts of insanity). HOW DO OBVIOUSLY INSANE TYRANTS GAIN LEGITIMATE SUPPORT (ie: support that comes from free will and not from fear)? I guess they don’t.

On “Snape’s Worst Memory”, a chapter from HP6:

I read an interesting editorial (I’m hooked on them, thanks a lot) that said that maybe Snape’s memory in the pensieve could be biased, because how could Snape have heard what they were talking about if he was so engrossed in what he was doing? The fight part would have been correct, of course, but what about all the conversation before that that made Harry think they were conceited? This editorial said that maybe Snape filled in that part with stuff he thought about the “marauders”. It could be true; it makes sense, and I kind of wondered about that because it is supposedly a “memory”, not a way to figure out everything that happened that day.

On Things That Should Have Been More Significant Than They Were:

Stephanie: Who is R.A.B.?  …the only person I could think of was Regulus Black, Sirius’ younger brother who supposedly joined the Death Eaters early on and then tried to get out of it when he realized what Voldemort wanted him to do, which led to Voldemort killing him. But what if he escaped and managed to get the Horcrux before he was killed?  I think he must be dead now, because in Order [of the Phoenix] his death date is on the family tree, and also because if he were alive Kreacher would have gone to him and not to Harry. But his death date on the family tree says that he died “some 15 years previously” and this was when Harry was 15. Coincidence? I don’t know. But I think somehow he is R.A.B.  Unfortunately we never find out his middle name in Order.

In this section I also want to mention the Deathly Hallows themselves, which made for a great title but didn’t really tie up very many loose ends—in fact, their existence created a few.

Chloë: And another thing: J.K. said we were going to find out something “HUGE” about Lily in this book [HP6]. What was it? I’m lost. And in the movies there’s all this stuff about Harry having her eyes. It’s becoming clearly pointless. Then again, I’m pretty sure she [Rowling] also insisted, before publication, that Snape wasn’t the Half-Blood Prince….

Stephanie: I read the books again… [and] there wasn’t really anything new that I noticed in them, except that there were an awful lot of references to Harry thinking that Snape can read minds—and then in book 5 it turns out that he can read minds.  So that was kind of neat.

On The Great Abandonment in HP7:

This is embarrassingly recent—as in, last couple of days. Note the predictions (in purple).

Stephanie: I am rereading HP7 in preparation for the movie. I forgot that it is kind of good! Except Ron just abandoned them, which made me sad.
Chloë: Ooh, rereading is a good idea. Yeah, I was pretty mad at Ron at that point.
Stephanie: This time around I sympathized with him a bit because he is used to Weasley love. Harry and Hermione are generally tougher. Plus, it helps to know that he’s going to come back… even though i can’t really remember the circumstances there.
Chloë: That’s true. Actually the way he comes back is fantastic, so it’s okay.
Stephanie: Plus, Ron is great. All the parts about the book on how to impress women are HILARIOUS.
Chloë: Yes. I think the first movie (of the two-parter) might end with Ron leaving them. That’s my prediction about the cut-off point.
Stephanie: Yeah, good one. End it with despair!

Stephanie later made her own prediction about HP7.1: “that the first movie is going to end when Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s tomb to steal his wand“. We shall see, Stephanie, we shall see.

Recommended HP-Related Material

We also have, at times, recommended fun HP-related reading material to one another:

• McSweeney’s Lists’ “Potential Titles for the Next Installment of the Harry Potter Series, as Co-Authored by Judy Blume”

• McSweeney’s Lists’ “Things Hagrid the Half-Giant Would Say if He Served Jesus Instead of Harry Potter”

• An infographic from “The Onion” on the HP4 (Goblet of Fire) movie

• Harry has apparently done some good in the world other than helping Stephanie and I survive exam time. You can read about it on Dear Mister Potter, a blog (accompanied by a book, I believe) which compiles sappy and sweet letters to Harry from (often young) readers. At this point the blog is plagued with comments like “OMG the premiere is 2nite I’m dressed as Bellatrx!!!!!!”, but overall the sap is still discernible.

Someday I’d like to write a post entitled “A Hairy Potter Friendship” and have it  be a cleverly relevant title (say about two gorillas that make delightful vases). Alas; it wasn’t in the stars today.

Stephanie: Um, on NBC right now is some Harry Potter theme park special that makes me want to watch HP… OR be a wizard.
Chloë: Or come visit me and have an HP marathon? yes.

Before signing off I should note that, of course, there is more to my friendship with Stephanie than a shared appreciation for Harry Potter. We also like Mariokart, for example.

Okay, so this post was a little lengthy—but I can’t tell you how much fun we had writing it. On that note, enjoy HP7 (part one)! We certainly will.


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Again I cheat and re-post something from my Facebook notes. The cheating is because I’m coming to the end of some vacation-like time right now—but all-new content will be returning very shortly (probably next post)….



by my sister Lydia

a poem i wrote to the younger
so i thought you deserve one too
i’m inside listening to thunder
today i studied and went poo

i am so very boredy bored
you aren’t because you’re with flamly
serina and elisa are leaving for home
and i’ve studied so much i’m dreaming of it

that did not rhyme
even though i have the time
now i will ryme every line
sort of
i’m chewing halloween gum
you are a gum
4 plus 4, what is the sum?


Brief Analysis of Lydia’s “(untitled)”

In deconstructing “(untitled)”, one finds that the most pertinent underlying binary is that of busy/idle; the poem is delightful and charming, yet indicative of psychological stresses that tug at the proverbial fabric of the piece. Structurally, the binary takes the form of a pendular movement between the two states, often within the very same clause(s) and/or phrase(s). This can be found, for example, in the lines “serina and elisa are leaving for home / and I’ve studied so much I’m dreaming of it”.

comments from the poet and others

The key to Lydia’s poem is motion: physical, emotional, intellectual, as well as degree of motion, presence of motion, type of motion. The states of the speaker are not only inconstant, but unstable. This instability—of not only state of activity but state of mind—manifests itself stylistically: it may be found, for one, in fluctuations of tense, such as in the lines “…i wrote to the younger / so i thought you deserve one too”.

The speaker is clearly oscillating between idleness and, if not actual activity, then the desire for it. Lackadaisical use of language, such as incorrect and inconsistent spelling (see “rhyme” in line 9, and later “ryme” in line 11), seems to imply a certain disregard for regulation. Yet this disregard is countered to some degree by the obviously purposeful playful and rhythmic changes in spelling: see “boredy bored” (line 5) and “flamly” (line 7). Slant rhyme, such as “time” and “line” in lines 10 and 11, or “younger” and “thunder” in lines 1 and 3, performs this double (deconstructive) function as well, by at once flippantly undermining traditional metrical elements and employing clear rhythm and assonance. In fact, slant rhyme is used to reinforce and to carry out the assertion made in the last stanza: “that did not rhyme / even though i have the time / now i will ryme every time / sort of”. It is the mark of a postmodernist, no doubt, to simultaneously be urged away from the formal register and toward writing itself as the chosen form of expression.

The crowning postmodern glory is the overall tone of nonchalance. That is, the reader is given the impression that the speaker is hardly aware of the dichotomies being built by the poem, and yet is strongly guided by them; we are left unsure as to whether the poet is immensely amateur, or immensely clever.

The apparent deterioration of relevant content into mere associative rhyme—as found in the last few lines (from “i’m chewing” in line 13 to “8” in line 16)—only serves to reinforce the whole point: that there isn’t one.

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This post is the fourth (and final) in a series. You can go back to part one, part two, or part three if you like.


Art: A Lost Art?

(Part Four)

It’s not the world’s fault you wanted to be an artist. It’s not the world’s job to enjoy the films you make, and it’s certainly not the world’s obligation to pay for your dreams. Nobody wants to hear it. Steal a camera if you have to, but stop whining and get back to work.

—German filmmaker Werner Herzog, to a young Italian fan who wrote him a letter complaining of the difficulties of being an independent filmmaker

I can’t agree with the part about stealing, but the rest is sound advice.

Contentment: A Job Perk

I’ve had long talks with good friends about what it means to be content and how we can achieve it. I recently read a blog post about someone’s “quarter-life crisis” (which happens to be highly relevant to my current age), the purpose of which was to remind fellow twenty-somethings that contentment is not a by-product of material success and that simplicity should be valued. I agree that simplicity is often an aspect of contentment, and that we should practice a healthy level of detachment from material life, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it.

It only took conversations with two marshmallowy art therapist friends and a lifetime of being “artsy-fartsy” to learn that the act of creating can help a person find contentment. Contentment, it seems to me, comes from fulfilling one’s purpose, and from what I have seen and experienced, a sense of fulfilled purpose can come from creating or selflessly serving others (or both).

Furthermore, contentment—which, it seems to me, is deep-seated and stable rather than fleeting—comes from doing either of these two things regularly. This is how transformation happens: by engaging in a purposeful project with lofty intentions over a half-decent length of time. The length of time will depend on the project, of course, but the length of time must allow the significance of the project to penetrate (our minds, our souls, our actions). We must keep at it, whatever it is, if we want to transform ourselves and the world.

A Final Word


But really:

There is hope, of course. There is hope for our brains (see that Newsweek article from part two again), and there is hope for our souls and characters (see that quote from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá again, also in part two).

I can’t finish a series about art and teachers without mentioning my own high school art teacher. He taught me for five years (back when Ontario still had a grade 13, or OAC—Ontario Academic Credit), and I’m grateful for every minute I spent in his art class. To this day I recall things I learned in his class, and being in that art room at OTHS is one of the clearest images of my high school career that I can conjure up. I won’t go on, for your sake, but I might get out my yearbook after this….

Whew! I haven’t written an essay in a while, and this series sure felt like one. I’d better quit now, not only because it’s way past bedtime, but because this topic is gigantic and out of control. I’m certain that I got a little lost in what constitutes art, what constitutes creativity, bla bla. Forgive me if I’ve confused you or made you late for an important dental appointment.

Nevertheless, I’d love to hear what you think about any of this.

Exeunt Chloë and Wakefulness


Check out the other posts in this series:

• Part One: In Memory of SQUIRT

• Part Two: The State of Art

• Part Three: Art is About You / Art is Not About You

• Part Four: (you are here)

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This post is the first in a series.


Art: A Lost Art?

(Part One)

Creativity is alive and well. This is a belief firmly held, obviously, by the writers of the Real Life Artist blog. Yet claims to the contrary abound. The series herein kicked off will explore some aspects—and only some, for I am but one woman with one blog and a day job—of the state and nature of creativity.

We’ll begin with a brief mosey down memory lane….

SQUIRT and My Visit to OPS

Some years ago I went to my elementary alma mater to visit my old teachers. My grade two teacher, whose class I loved dearly, was among them, and we had a conversation that I have remembered for a long time.

My favourite class activity in grade two was a twofold delight. The first half of the block of time was called “SQUIRT”: super-quiet uninterrupted reading time. The second half of the activity consisted of our teacher reading aloud from a book (usually one chapter of a young readers’ chapter book) while we helped ourselves to the craft supplies cupboard. It was a weekly pleasure, as I recall, to rifle through the scraps of wallpaper and cardboard tubes and old greeting cards and Popsicle sticks, and to glue something crazy together while being read to.

When I visited this teacher, I expressed my long-held fondness for SQUIRT and crafting. She responded, in sorrowful and wistful tones, that a few years ago she had put an end to the after-SQUIRT free-craft time. Why? The children were constantly interrupting her reading to ask what they should be making and how they should do it. “They just couldn’t latch on to the open-ended nature of the project,” she said. She went on to say:

It got to the point where it wasn’t worth doing anymore; they weren’t listening to the story and they were becoming anxious about a craft activity that originated as a reward for a good week. These are seven-year-olds. Where have their imaginations gone?

I’m not sure who was sadder: her, for having watched children change in this way year after year, or me, for having to hear about the end of a beloved era.

My visit was otherwise delightful, and I’m very glad I was able to see this teacher and express my appreciation for the experience I had in her classroom. Thank goodness for good teachers!

On a related note, I always cry when I watch “Mr. Holland’s Opus”. Tears every time! It’s very reliable.

“If I’m supposed to choose between Mozart and reading and writing and long division, I choose long division.”

“Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want…. Sooner or later, these kids aren’t going to have anything to read or write about.”

—”Mr. Holland’s Opus”

Perhaps I’ve only whetted your appetite, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the next installment of “Art: A Lost Art?“.


Go on to part two.

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You may remember an earlier post called Grab Bag, in which I listed a number of interesting, fun, and beautiful things that I came across on the vast Internet. They were in no particular order. It’s time for a second round, because I’m going away from the Internet for a few days and I want to leave you with something!

1. First of all, in keeping with tradition, something to do with bags: Here are 35 sewing patterns for homemade grocery bags, made out of all kinds of things (including shirts). You’ll never have to agree to paper or plastic again (ideally, your grocery store doesn’t offer either). 

2. “Missing Missy” is one of the funniest email exchanges I’ve ever read (between a secretary who’d lost her cat and a graphic designer who she hoped would make a poster about it).

3. Chocomize: Customize my own chocolate bars? Why, that sounds scrumptious!

4. “Life Reeked With Joy” is a very funny bit of rewritten history.

5. “Poets Ranked By Beard Weight” is a blog post about a forgotten hilarious book. Other great beard-dom is to be found on Wondermark, my favourite web-comic.

6. Literary “so-and-so walks into a bar” jokes (I contributed a few, and you can too)

7. It Made My Day, a blog about “little WINs”

8. I have a love/hate relationship with wilderness shirts and sweatshirts. I have hated them for years, but then began to love them when Bret started wearing them in almost every episode of “Flight of the Conchords”. Awhile ago there was a bit of a hoopla about them and BBC wrote about it. I like it when irony sweeps through society. Here is another example, e-mailed by a friend:

This reminds me of the Bic pen reviews I chanced upon last year. ALL of them are like this. Here’s my favourite:

1.0 out of 5 stars Warning!!! Not Mac Compatible!!, December 24, 2007

I recently bought these pens only to find they are not made for macs. In addition to only working with PC’s, I found that also lacked a USB 2.0 port, installation software, and were extremely susceptible to spyware. These pens are not y2k compatible and contain no slot for extra memory. All in all I was not impressed with this product.

9. On that note, there is a hilarious column on McSweeney’s called “Get to Know an Internet Commenter”, which I highly recommend if you like to giggle while rolling your eyes. If I recall correctly, the second and the last were particularly funny.

10. Finally, I have not laughed so hard (while alone, even) at a video as I did when I watched ze frank’s broom game. Watching people fall down for perfectly innocent reasons is so funny! Also, it reminded me very much of a game called Spinhugs that I invented at my dear ROBSI camp a number of years ago. The essential rules are as follows: go to an open area, spread out, start spinning around, and try to hug another person who is also spinning around. Two people win when they manage to hug each other (without falling down or whacking each other’s faces). It’s awesome. Note that we also tried Aquatic Spinhugs, but it is dangerously hard; you just don’t have enough breath to spin while treading water, and if you manage to reach someone else, you end up pulling one another down.

Le Fin

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