Monday, July 18, 2011

Farewell, Harry Potter: Pass with tears

Ok, so, obviously I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 at the midnight premiere. I also obviously loved it, like the rest of the wide majority. I went with some friends who agreed to make T-shirts with me... really classy black ones with iron-on decals for Platform 9&3/4.

I WOULD like to discuss the movie's Pass and Fail moments, because I think there are many equally fantastic and corny bits worth mentioning. However, this post is not about the highs and lows of the movie--I'll save that for my next post. For now, I wanted to share a column I was asked to write for about the series as a whole and its impact on me. It's sort of the best way I know how to say goodbye to the series and the last 10 years, more or less.So without further adieu...

Ann Arbor (July 14, 2011)--At midnight tonight, scores of would-be witches and wizards will flock to the theater near them and partake in the climax of a phenomenon. They will all say goodbye to Harry Potter.

I am just one out of thousands of fans with tickets to a midnight release of the final film installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. But like those who will keep me company, I feel a deep individual connection to this series, so much so that I will probably shed several tears as the final credits roll.

I am a typical Potter maniac. I watched the movies at their midnight premieres and sometimes dressed up like a favorite character (Harry, Hermione and Prof. Trelawney). I frequent websites like the Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet. I reserved the books before their release and read them cover to cover over weekends. I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando,FL. squealing with glee at the shops and their treasures.

This is how the fan community of Harry Potter behaves. We know what it’s like to read a 1,000-page book in two days. We organize real Quidditch teams, even if we can’t fly. We cry when characters die and when they succeed.

I understand that those who aren’t a part of the mania must think we’re all nuts. Trust me, I feel the same way about Trekkies. Those who aren’t fans, however, have to admit it’s pretty cool that mere fantasy books can have this kind of effect on the world of reading.

Since there is no way I can possibly speak for all the fans who span the globe, all I can do with this farewell column is explain what the series means to me. The best way to properly do that is to return to the beginning.

When the Harry Potter books first came into my life, I was 12, just a year older than Harry was when he first entered Hogwarts. Like many in middle school, the reading I once enjoyed in elementary school had primarily been replaced with things like friends, sports and outdoor adventures.

Then I enrolled in a reading course that changed my life. Our only task every morning was to read for the full hour. After seeing a fellow student paw through "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone," I decided to give fantasy books another whirl.

What followed in those few weeks I spent with book one was magical, in every sense of the word. I realized that I not only missed reading, but that books could bring you into their world. J.K. Rowling made me feel like one of her Hogwarts students—hopefully a Ravenclaw—and I haven’t stopped voraciously reading since.

Therein lies the strength of the entire phenomenon: once you are a part of Harry’s world, there is no leaving it. Harry Potter is in all of us and his magical world is just like our own.

In fact, there isn’t a single social issue or personal dilemma from today’s world that the Harry Potter series ignores. Throughout the pages of these seven books, Harry Potter’s world is fraught with discrimination, classism, dirty politics, dictators, torture, loss and death. His world, like our own, attempts to fight these issues with love, friendship, courage and help from Dumbledore’s Army—also known as the Harry Potter Alliance in our world.

J.K. Rowling’s novels might be classified as fantasy, but their core isn’t about magic. Her books are about looking within for the strength to make the world better.

This premiere is emotional for Potter fans because Harry Potter has always been about more than the books, movies and merchandise. It’s about the experience. It’s about the camaraderie we share with one another each time we enter this magical world.

Once it’s all over, we will be able to relish in our memories and relive our experiences through the books and movies. We will not, however, be able to return to the premieres and the book parties that made friends out of nerdy strangers.

But, alas, we must move on. As Albus Dumbledore would say, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

No matter which direction our lives take us from here, our experiences over the last decade will bond fans forever. Those in my age group who grew up with Harry will likely return to him with nostalgia when we read his story to our own children.

So to those many Harry Potter fans out there: enjoy the final premiere night and enjoy the company of those who will share this moment with you. You have helped to change the world by forcing reading into the limelight.

And to J.K. Rowling: thank you for the experience. You are a part of my childhood, and you made it very special.

So, anyone have another series I can read to occupy my time now that Harry Potter is done? I suppose the Hunger Games movies are being filmed, which might be something worth looking forward to... and The Hobbit. But I've sort of run out of fantasy series reading material.

Posted via email from Pass Fail Meter

The cooking continues...

Greetings, friends. I had some major life changes in the last few months, causing me to somewhat abandon my various online blogging ventures, including Sporks & Spoons. But obviously my eating didn't stop, so it's easy enough to simply begin where we left off: cooking healthy lunches for myself in order to consume healthier meals and save some $money$.

The photo you see is my latest produce box from The Fruit Guys. I ordered a small regional produce box this time, so my fruits and veggies came from farms in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. This week they sent me fennel, Bibb lettuce, kale, basil, blueberries, summer squash and cherries. Yesterday's lunch used up the last of the kale and fennel by using a recipe that came with the box. It was an apple, fennel and kale salad of sorts... which calls for essentially cooking those three things with some spice and onions/shallots/green onions. It was delicious, and I'm happy to share the recipe if you're looking for a sweet and spicy way to use up either fennel or kale.

I should add (considering my last post in January), that I ended up not participating in a CSA. I simply couldn't afford the downpayment given that I didn't know how much produce I would need or want. I started using the Fruit Guys instead because I can order what I know I need when I want to. But I may revisit CSAs again next year after I've nailed down the quantity I need.

Lunch today included a smoothie of sorts that I made from the blueberries and cherries. I coupled it with some wild rice, because there were leftovers and I can never resist wild rice.

I'll be traveling a bit over the next few weeks, but I'll be near some farms and cool gardens where I hope to find inspiration for some fabulous lunches. I'm going to give cooking a shot on the road because I think traveling (like work) is another activity that often sucks us into purchasing easy, fast midday meals. This shall not stand!

We'll see what I come up with...

Until next time, Cheers!