Monthly Archives: July 2011

More Harry Potter Discussion And Top 50 Mom Bloggers on Babble

I do believe this is the first time I have engaged in a popularity contest. It will probably be the last. But this is a big one, and I’m hoping you all can help 🙂

Babble is having a voting contest for the Top 50 Mom Bloggers, and I am (barely) in the running. So, I am asking for your vote. Mostly because I think it would be awesome to have an infertility voice in the mix. To that end, I’d like to ask that you also vote for the other ALI voices also in the running. Some of them have a real shot.

Here’s the instructions on how to vote:

Go here

Click on the “alphabetical” tag

Scroll to the bottom

Click on the 9 button on the list of pages, then click on the 17, then the 19.

My blog is called “Too Many Fish To Fry”, so it’s towards the end of the list. Other ALI blogs in the running are: Creating Motherhood, Four of a Kind, Here We Go Again, Once a Mother, Stirrup Queens, The Kir Corner, Write Mind Open Heart. Please let me know in the comments if there are any other ALI blogs also in the running.

OK, onto to the Harry Potter Discussion!

In my last post, I was discussing what I loved and didn’t love about Harry Potter. One thing I really didn’t love was that Fred perishes. Fred is one of favorite characters. I mean, how can you not love a character who exits Hogwarts triumphantly by blowing up the school with firecrackers that spell the word “Poo” repeatedly? Mommy Odyssey rightly points out that this wasn’t in the movie and that stinks.

Anyway, I saw a tweet from Amy the Bookish hinting that Fred maybe did not meet his end at the battle for Hogwarts. I was intrigued. Herewith follows her five part theory about Fred. It’s too fun not to share.

Hee!

This one has real promise. I’m going to have to look up that story.

Inneresting.

Word. And I say this as a mother of twins. I can’t bear to think of twins separated.

I like this. For more, read Amy’s brilliant post. I really like the way she explains how we become emotionally invested in characters and tie them to events in our own lives.

Do you read Harry Potter Fan Fiction? What would you like to change in the books, plot wise? Would you rescue any characters from death?

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Filed under Discovering joy, Uncategorized

I Now Interrupt Regular Programming To Obsess About Harry Potter

Harry Potter Shell Cottage Freshwater West

Photo Credit of Shell Cottage: Russ Hamer (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re not a fan, or you’re sick of all this talk about “Deathly Hallows,” skip this. Also, Spoilers A Plenty!

I remember when I dismissed the “Harry Potter” series as a fad before I ever read one of the books. I lived in London at the time, and Bloomsbury had redesigned special covers of the first few books to look less childish, so adults wouldn’t be embarrassed to read them. Every other adult riding the tube was reading one. I was in an insufferable book snob phase (it was the year we decided to not have a TV) and was working my way through “The Famished Road”, which…most incomprehensible book ever? (Sorry, “Ulysses.”) I went back to the states for a wedding, and I remember telling my friend about the adult book covers. Her response? “Don’t knock it ’til you try it.”

So I bought “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” at the airport and put “The Famished Road” in my carry-on luggage. And thus began my love affair with all things Harry.

Mommy Odyssey is writing a bewitching (sorry) series for “Key Pulp,” which details how the movies stack up against the books: mostly, unfavorably. It’s a must-read for Potter-philes.

I don’t want to talk about the movies, but rather what I loved, and didn’t love, about the books.

LOVE:
– The messages J.K. Rowling imparted throughout the series. It is our choices that define us, not our talents. Courage Matters, whether through small gestures like standing up for a friend or facing down a major fear, like fear of spiders or by reliving our past mistakes or worst memories. Love is what makes life worth living.
– Hermione. She’s a fully formed, flawed, likable main character who is involved in the main action of the story. She’s a girl/woman who often saves her heroic friends with her considerable knowledge. She’s smart but works hard to be the best in her year.
– NEVILLE! Neville is a nerdy, kind boy whose parents were tortured to the point of madness by Voldermort’s supporters. He’s an unlikely hero, who mainly demonstrates courage in small, non-showy ways. But the courage he demonstrates makes a crucial difference.
– Luna. Wise, unearthly, kind Luna. She’s spiritual, yet strangely practical and is the yang to Hermione’s yin. She reminds me of CookedHeads 🙂
– Fred and George. Maybe I’m predisposed to pay particular interest to twins, but I hearted them before I even got married. Their sense of humor, charm and mischief is wonderfully portrayed and they have the best lines: “Seriously evil wizard coming through!” Poor Fred. Sob.
– Mrs. Weasley. I know she’s somewhat controversial, but now that I’m a mom I’m simply amazed by her parenting skills. With limited resources, she raises seven superstar children, who achieve much success as adults. (Except for Fred. Sob.) She’s bossy, nurturing, a good cook, manages her household with aplomb and darns everyone’s socks. We all know how important socks are in the Harry Potter universe. And she has arguably the best line in the whole series: “Not my daughter, you BITCH!”
– Snape. Rowling had me guessing about his motives until the very, very end. I suspected that he MIGHT have feelings for Lily, but I didn’t see how important they would be. He’s deeply, seriously fatally flawed but he’s a romantic hero in the end.
– Historical echoes from World War II. I noted when I lived in the UK that World War II is a much greater part of the fabric of literature, movies, TV programming and even what’s covered in the news. It’s understandable: the UK stood basically alone against the greatest military power the world had ever seen. So many people died, the country was physically attacked and bombed and WWII is a great, pivotal point in the history of the country. Obviously, Voldemort is inspired in part by Hitler and his creepy “blood” policies were inspired by Hitler’s racist policies. The scariest scenes in all of the books to me are the scenes in “Deathly Hallows” of the Ministry of Magic. The Dark Lord has taken over, and his followers are free to persecute witches or wizards based solely on who their parents were. And Umbridge (shudder) runs a propaganda bureau in a Goebbels-esque fashion. Truly frightening stuff.

Don’t Love
– As much as it pains me to say, the books are not perfect. (Although they nearly are ;P.)
– GINNY – Among all of the heroes, she’s my least favorite. I personally think it’s weird that Rowling needed to pair up every member of the trio at the end. And while I know a few people who met their husband/wife in high school, most people don’t. I like Ron/Hermione a lot. But why the need to couple up Harry at age 16/17, too? And Ginny is a cipher to me. She’s MOSTly (but not entirely, as Mommy Odyssey pointed out to me: see the Ministry scene, book five), defined by what others say about her. She’s shy in the first two books, gets possessed by Voldemort in the second so we are unable to decipher who she is, seeing as she’s POSSESSED by, as Fred and George would say, a seriously evil wizard. Then we get a lot of telling, not showing, comments from Ron, Fred, Hermione in the next couple of books. Like: guys think she’s hot, she LOVES Quidditch, her boogey hex is the BEST, blah blah blah. Even when she is showcased, finally, in the last two books, I guess I just didn’t LIKE her. She didn’t seem very multi-faceted or real, but rather a conglomeration of characteristics that Harry might like in a girl. (Like being hot, liking Quidditch, being feisty, etc.) I even preferred Cho, who came across on the page as a real person. I have to admit that if I could trade Fred for Ginny, I would. To me, she is a Mary Sue.
– James Potter. OK, this one is going to get me in hot water. But I think he’s kind of a jerk. At least in the flashback scenes. I’m sure he must come around and be nice, otherwise Lily wouldn’t have fallen for him, but in the flashback scenes with the Marauders, he comes across exactly the way Lily describes him: as a toerag. I know that’s the point, and obviously he becomes the father who sacrifices himself for his son, but…I don’t know. Maybe Rowling will write the story of how he and Lily fall in love someday.

And, that’s really all. Before I read the whole series, I would probably have said that the whole S.P.E.W. subplot annoyed me, but the house-elf liberation front becomes crucial in the last book, and I like the underlying message of why the treatment of house-elves (and goblins too) comes back to bite wizards in the butt, so to speak.

What do YOU love about the Harry Potter series? And what do you NOT love?

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Filed under Discovering joy, writing

Memory: Necessary Ingredient to Life or Hindrance?

Plaque Proust

By Tangopaso (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Darcy and I had a discussion about memory over the weekend. I am someone whose memory is prompted by places I go. I live where I grew up, and my parents were outdoorsy people. We hiked every weekend it didn’t rain, and if it did rain, we went somewhere whether it was a museum, the library or church. I like to go to the local forrest or lake. It reminds me of growing up and my parents and brother. (Both my parents and my brother now live across the country.) I also lived here for most of my battle through infertility so there are also some negative places in my neighborhood, mostly a local supermarket and pharmacy. I don’t like to go to those places. Once I had my kids, I tried to visit them triumphantly, to put the past behind me. It didn’t work. Mel has a great post about how she studiously avoids places where there are bad memories attached.

But I love bringing my kids to the local beach where my father and I looked for sand dollars when I was young, the county fair where I hung out as a teen and ate caramel apples and the pizza parlor where I played “Miss Pacman.” It makes me feel like I am revisiting my childhood, yet in a new, fresh way.

We went to the sand dollar beach over the long weekend, and I annoyed Darcy by constantly pointing to landmarks and talking about my past experiences. Around that bend in the road is the bird sanctuary I went to as a third grader, that beach house was the one my Dad’s friend owned, where we went to parties on the Fourth of July, that restaurant is the one where my mom let me order a Shirley Temple. Darcy has had some really exotic and unusual experiences: he traveled Morocco for a month by himself and almost got caught up in a smuggling ring, he went to Albania in 1994 to see for himself what the conflict was like and got mugged, he lived in Hong Kong for two years. Growing up, his parents took him to three star restaurants in Paris. Yet, he doesn’t remember those experiences that well. I really have to ask a lot of questions to prompt his memories.

So I feel silly talking about my tame, mundane memories, but they are very important to me. As I pointed to the bar seat at the restaurant and relayed how I once asked the bartender for a maraschino cherry to top off my shirley temple, Darcy asked why these memories were so necessary to me. We had both seen a “60 Minutes” special about a very small group of people who remember in agonizing details every day of their life: from the trivialities of what they wore and the weather to the emotions they felt when someone cut them off in traffic or when their boyfriend fought with them.

Darcy is unable or unwilling to use his memory to relate to places we have been to in the past. He thinks of memory as adding depth to life but dangerous: people can live in the past, and that is a dangerous place to abide. He pointed out that there have been artists who essentially stopped living, full stop, in order to recreate the past. Proust famously lived in a cork-lined bedroom room, blocking out all noise to mine his past in great detail, thereby producing one of the greatest works of literature. Have you read it? I read “Swann’s Way” during my early pregnancy with the twins (I had hypermesis and was bedridden), because I wanted them to be smart. Of course, that doesn’t explain my obsession with “The Hills” at the same time, but I digress. “Swann’s Way” was the only novel that actively changed the way I saw the world. The dreamlike, detailed prose prompted by “involuntary memories” was sublime, and yet real. In reality, our thoughts are rarely linear and move in and out of the past and present, while contemplating the future. Yet, Proust’s writing was not confusing like James Joyce. I hated “Ulysses.”

What was at the heart of this discussion is this: Darcy worries about me living in the past, not moving on from the negative experiences of infertility and miscarriage. I admit that I am worried about this as well.

Do you find yourself triggered by “involuntary memories,” whether it’s going to the local pharmacy where you bought pregnancy tests that turned negative, or by the taste of a spicy tuna roll that you ate on the night you decided to live it up after getting a BFN? Or the smell of a particular soap you used at your fertility clinic the day of a retrieval? Or seeing photos of a celebrity who was pregnant when you desperately wanted to be?

Would you rather give up these memories, or do they make you who you are?

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Filed under Infertility, writing