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Posts Tagged ‘harry potter

Personal #3: When A Dream Becomes Reality

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“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” – Albus Dumbledore

I recently ventured to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (a.k.a. HPL) in Orlando. For three years, I planned for this. For six years, I dreamed of it. After all, only fools daren’t dream of walking the halls of Hogwarts, binging on Chocolate Frogs, and conquering the Most Dangerous Dark Wizard of All Time. So what happened when this dream finally became reality? The crushing reminder that dreams rarely translate well into real life. Don’t get me wrong, I had a fabulous time, and probably burned more calories laughing than I did circling that damn park 100 times. (Bingham was right – life is better with company.) Despite this, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed as I said my goodbyes to HPL. I think the following Before/After shots adequately illustrate my feelings. I went from captivated to crestfallen in 72 hrs. flat:


No way that's the real Hogwarts Express. There's no way!


I don't remember a fire extinguisher being in the books...

What exactly went wrong, you ask? Let me break it down for you in bulleted list fashion:

  • Too small: I get that this is only one part of the Islands of Adventure, but come on. Harry Potter – the name that produced the highest grossing film series of all time and first billionaire author was relegated to a section the size of a Wal-Mart Superstore parking lot. Epic fail.
  • Poorly placed: In order to reach the gates of Hogwarts, we were forced to experience arguably the worst part of the Islands: Seuss Landing. I became nauseous and uneasy every time I passed through this pastel-colored abomination. Seuss Landing will definitely make an appearance in my Hell. That and strangers gawking at any portion of my wedding. Both are equally offensive.
  • Hogsmeade: This all-wizarding village was the main setting for the park. Big mistake. About 15% of the HP series takes place here (if that), and it’s mainly just shops. So why did they pick it? Oh right, because it’s mainly just shops. Commercialism is King, even in HPL. After figuring that I’d probably drop at least 30 bucks in each shop, I come to find that most of them were just facades. There were only about four actual shops. With bad merchandise. Take, for instance, the Chocolate Frog that I couldn’t wait to buy at Honeydukes. It was possibly the worst chocolate I’ve ever tasted, and that includes the sketchy generic chocolate my mom would make me throw out on Halloween. Also, Zonko’s sold the jokes and tricks from the series right alongside a rubber chicken and chattering teeth…what?! Despicable.
  • Staff that denied my wizard status: I’d like to speak with the person responsible for the employee instruction manual at this place. Any time I spoke with a staff member, I was referred to as a “Muggle.” How don’t they get that the people who come to HPL are seeking recognition for their magical abilities? And why are you assuming that I’m not a wizard? My involuntary response to each worker was, “I’m not a Muggle!” coupled with a scathing glare. To make matters worse, they all spoke with American accents. The only time I heard a British accent was when the conductor of the Hogwarts Express commanded, “Say butterbeer!” I shall remain forever grateful for his enthusiasm.
  • Lack of dark arts/wizards/magic/aura: I fell in love with this series because of its dark nature, particularly in books 5-7. I expected to have Death Eaters shooting curses at me while simultaneously having my soul sucked out by a Dementor. I thought of the different spells I would use on Voldemort as we battled in the Ministry of Magic. I was even prepared to leave with a piece of my soul safely confined in a Horcrux (my Bette Boop bobblehead being the likely object of choice). Yet there was no sign of the Dark Arts, let alone of Voldemort himself. I suppose the powers that be didn’t want to scare off their core customer base of 4-16 year olds. Still, this was a huge miss.

I will say that, on the plus side, I bought two awesome t-shirts and enjoyed the Dragon Challenge coaster. Overall, though, the Wizarding World didn’t come close to my dream world. Much is to be said for fantasies staying fantasies, because your idea of a thing can only remain perfect in this form. I began this journey desperately wishing to experience the magic of HP in real life. Now I wish I never sought anything beyond what was already in the books, films and, most importantly, in my head.


Personal #2: HPL a.k.a. WWoHP a.k.a. Heaven

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It is 5:20 a.m. I am currently experiencing insomnia because “Travel Tara” has kicked in. This is a condition whereby my anxiety/excitement for a preplanned travel activity has inhibited or completely eliminated my ability to sleep, comprehend external stimuli, or form coherent speech. Why has this condition set in? Because in 14 hours I leave for the most magical place on Earth. As a result, I feel what I imagine the love child of Jessie Spano and Richard Simmons would feel on a daily basis.

That’s right, kids. The moment I’ve been waiting for since 2007 has finally arrived. I am flying to Harry Potter Land (HPL) a.k.a. the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) a.k.a. Heaven tonight! This is where my fantasies will literally come true. It is an entire theme park dedicated to all things Harry Potter and marketed toward children ages 3-12. I along with those children will experience the unimaginable joy of living life as a wizard. And if that makes me wrong, I don’t want to be right.

I will also be joined by BFF Tricia. She is the perfect partner in crime for this excursion since her inner nerd can outshine mine any time. (P.S. Trish, how did I Google you and land on a video from your Anything Goes glory days? I love the internet.*)

This is only Part 1 of this post, since I will have to disclose my life-altering experiences at HPL. For the record, Kate asked me to, not least because she is going to HPL in a month. Classmates, you may think us odd, but I think we’re awesome.

One reason is because once I’ve spent four days at Hogwarts, I will finally feel worthy enough to join the Holy Grail of Amazon communities:

Choosing between the Harry Potter community and the Fantasy community is going to be tough. Although, the Boxed Set community is really where the power lies, despite its smaller size. Do you know the dedication one must have to own an entire boxed set? Not to mention the resources to afford it. Boxed Set it is.

*At this moment. In truth I’m terrified that all of this data on me exists in the ether and I never know when it will come back to haunt me. It’s so Kafkaesque. And I am such a loser for saying that.

Personal #1: Natural Highs

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As I tramped along the rain-soaked bricks of Georgetown yesterday morning, my thoughts involuntarily wandered to all of the natural highs in life. These highs are categorically the best because they are au naturel. They are able to produce feelings of euphoria just by being. While these highs are personal, I am sure you will find my selection to be universal. Take a look and tell me I’m lying:

1. Mother carrying baby on chest

I witnessed this scene on my way to work. The corners of my mouth turned up automatically. I felt a strong buzz and spent the next 30 seconds laughing. Perhaps this reaction comes from my biological clock going haywire around nuggets (read: babies). More likely, though, it is because every time I see this, the mother walks along as if it is the norm to have a mini human strapped to her body. I mean…your baby is hanging off of you. I would love to be a fly on the wall of the infant brain during these little adventures.

Whelp, you know what they say. One baby’s misery is a twisted lady’s delight.

2. Rain boots

Originally, I thought about mentioning my boots boots (camel-colored leather Steve Maddens…ooo wee these are nice). But then it hit me. I can walk for hours through a monsoon and still have dry feet in my rain boots. I stood in a deep puddle for two minutes just because I could. And you know what? Still had toasty warm toes. BAM…natural high. I felt like Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It. In other words, I felt invincible. Rain boots are a-MAY-zing.

3. Mango

If Diet Coke is my cigarette, then mango is my cocaine. I will pay any price for it, and when on-the-go I feel the need to smuggle it in my purse. The fact that I did not grow up with any mango in my house is tantamount to child abuse. Sure, Momma made copious amounts of pasta, but this sweet goodness? Nada. I thought it only existed on TV. Anyway, this past year I learned what I’ve been missing and never looked back. I started the day with mango to the face and have since been “walking with swagger” according to my Sassy Gay Friend (see below). Indeed, life is good.

4. Bread

Ah bread. Bread, bread, bread, bread, bread. Delicious, fluffy bread. That’s all I have to say about that.

5. Male bonding

Whether shown via a war miniseries on HBO or the brothers from Supernatural, I get a serious high off of this. I cannot think of anything more crucial to humanity than male bonding. Democracies have been saved and demons have been vanquished because of the power of this phenomenon. Any time I see guys express feelings and bond over a common experience, it’s as if I just looked up at the sky and saw God wink at me. The exuberance I feel manifests itself in me hiding behind a blanket and giggling uncontrollably.

6. Harry Potter

Along with the rest of the planet, I am obsessed with J.K.’s perfect creation of adolescent angst. The difference between the rest and me is that they are Muggles, and I am not. I am a wizard in the wings, and I have a wand to prove it. (Note: I prefer wizard to witch, as witch has a negative connotation). I don’t think I could self-actualize without this literary masterpiece, specifically books 5-7. Whenever I feel low, bored or confused, I automatically turn to HP. The answers are always there. Freezing and foggy out? Expecto patronum! Creepy man gaining on you at night? Protego! Fight with a best friend? Book 7, Chapter 19, Ron comes back. The fact that the series is finished creates the same mixed bag of emotions that J.K. felt: “I’ve never felt such a mixture of extreme emotions in my life, never dreamed I could feel simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric.” Luckily, I will be flying via broomstick to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in less than one week. Cue DaughtryI’m going home.

7. Political realities reminiscent of West Wing

First, let me tell you that I firmly believe the Bartlet Administration is interwoven into the fabric of American history. Sorkin is God, and The West Wing is real. Nothing confirms this belief more than when I see the happenings on the Hill reflect an episode I just re-watched for the 20th time. Obama’s not-so-secret addiction to nicotine? Bartlet’s been there, done that. Arms deals to Gulf nations that don’t quite match up with our democratic standards? CJ said it best: “They’re beating the women, Nancy!” A weathered Obama stifling his beliefs to play politics? Bartlet didn’t stay up for five nights for nothing.

A natural high is expected from a show this brilliant, but when reality tips its hat to this fictional world, it’s as though I’m auditioning for Up with People.

8. Antoine Dodson

When I watch this, my soul hugs my heart tight. Every. Single. Time. Antoine Dodson is the best thing since sliced tomato. I love him! I love him for the man that he wants to be. And I love him for the man he almost is.

9. Shameless dance parties

I basically wish my life was a musical, so the reason why this gets me going is obvious. However, there’s a difference between me just dancing office-to-office at work and a “shameless dance party.” The former gets me prepped for a long day of staring at a computer screen, while the latter results in sweaty delusions of grandeur. For instance, last weekend pals and co. danced as if our lives depended on it. We were drenched, overwhelmed and had incredibly high opinions of ourselves. In brief, we looked like the cast of Glee. In fact, we looked more like Elaine — 10 drug-induced Elaines. Such is the awesome power of the shameless dance party.

10. Sassy Gay Friend

The only thing better than Brian Gallivan’s creation is the real thing. My Sassy Gay Friend (SGF) is the best part of my day. If I didn’t find him waiting to mock me at work every day, I would fall down and die. We literally don’t stop laughing when we are together. Whether he is imitating my mother or regaling me with tales of his Boy Scout past, I am in a constant state of manic joy. He regularly hints at our impending “break up,” but I love him all the more for it. He is one part wit, one part hilarity and one part sass. I always say I just want a straight man with his personality, but then I realize that is impossible. The very virtue of said man being straight negates 2/3 of the SGF personality. Ah, such is life.

11. Rebecca Rose Ruiz

Rebecca, a.k.a. Triple R, is my sister for life. My Pi Phi sister for life, that is. I had the honor of rooming next to her in the sorority house during my sophomore year. There are three things about Triple R that are by themselves not that special, but when combined are awe-inspiring. 1. Triple R is a wordsmith. She can spin words like Charlotte can spin a web. It’s not just me who thinks so – check out her work at The NYTimes. 2. Triple R is funny without trying. For instance, when a muffin was thrown at her face with rocket force, she didn’t yell, kick or scream. Instead, she ran away sobbing. Hilarious, no? 3. Triple R is a baby genius. I think she’s only 20. Maybe 21. Really folks, I have no idea just how young my “peer” is. Oh, and remember how she works at NYTimes? Yea, her work was nominated for a Pulitzer this past year. Awe-inspiring.

I have many, many more, but that will have to do for now. Perhaps this will be Part 1 of a series. In any event, I’m off to go get high naturally.

Feel free to answer: What are your natural highs?