Friday, July 29, 2011

Mischief Managed, Part Two.

Here is part two of my review for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two (now that's a lot of part twos). You can read part one here. Or you can not read them at all and come back to this here blog next week, when I shall regale you with tales containing much less obsessive geekery. Enjoy!

Me in 2005, trying to magic a light fixture as I show off my fancy threads. Basically I was just as nerdy then as I am now - it's good to know that some things never change, right?

- Speaking of Gred and Forge - they are hardly in this movie. They've been so great in the past films, I would have loved to see more of them. I do love their dialogue with each other right before the baddies come storming in. It's so casually typical, yet poignant especially knowing what is going to...oh, crud. Need more tissues. The teenagers are totally weirded out by my random outbursts of emotion.

- I love the little bits of humor (Neville egging on the baddies on the bridge), it breaks up the tension so nicely. Plus, I'll gladly take more Neville screen time any day (when did I start channeling my inner tween?). I have a feeling Neville is going to BRING IT very, very soon. Go, Neville!

- Hermione destroying the Horcrux + getting drenched with her Wheezy = MAKE OUT TIME. Now THAT'S a kiss! (Aside: Did anyone else feel as if the Harry/Ginny snog was rushed? I know they were preparing for battle, but STILL. I needed more passion!)

- Neville running towards Hogwarts as the bridge crumbles behind him has me on the edge of my seat. He has so come into his own in this movie, such a fine action hero is he! Actually, I feel like all the characters have grown into their roles so well in this final movie. They each wear their characters so naturally now, and have made such an impression on us. They will all be very, very hard to forget. I'm feeling nostalgic and the movie isn't even over. Stop looking at me like I'm crazy, teenagers - one day you'll get old and weepy too.

-  oooh...good close-up of Voldie's wand breaking. Not working out so well for you is it, Mr. V? Hah!

-  Even if it didn't happen in the book, I so adore Neville's declaration of love for Luna. It's sweet and said with just the right amount of earnest intent, not to mention truth "I should tell her, (because) we'll all be dead by dawn". (Well, it's not true for Neville and Luna, but it will be for another well-loved couple...waaah!)

- What on Godric's Green Earth is that fire monster thing that is chasing the trio in the Room of Requirement? Is it a snake? Is it a bear? Is it a dragon? It's CRAZY! Fly, friends! Fly!!!! (I just got what it was. Fiendfyre. 10, 000 Bonus Geek Points for ME.)

- It's great that they kept Draco true to his character, not even a sideways glance to Harry for saving his skinny little butt back there. Well done being a jerkface, Malfoy. Well done.

- I think Hermione just figured out that Nagini isn't the last Horcrux! But will she say anything?? I forget if she knew in the book or if she was told? Who cares! Let's keep watching!

- The battle, although secondary to Harry's personal journey, is shown as no less important to the overall story. You really get a sense of it here as the the trio are running through the courtyard with the battle raging on around them (Lavender Brown died? I never knew that!) - and you're still very much interested in what happens to all the other characters. Well, at least I am. I wonder if the casual movie-goer will care as much.

- PATRONUS POWER! Go Aberforth! What fast pacing for this film, the action doesn't let up - ever!

- Rickman vs. Fiennes - the final standoff. Now this is a potent acting combination. And Fiennes makes a powerful screen villain, does he not? Evil McEvilson, in spite of his noselessness.

- Oh my goodness. The not seeing of Nagini's attack on Snape is even more gruesome than it would have been if we had seen it. Just the sounds and bloody shadows seen through the clouded glass are enough to send me over the edge. It's horribly dramatic when your brain has to fill in those grisly details.

- "You have your mother's eyes." The last thing Snape saw, and the last thing he said - it's just as powerful here as it was in the books (although differently worded, it's no less emotional). Do I hear sniffles coming from somewhere around me?

- Harry stumbles back into Hogwarts, it's as if he's only peripherally noting the dead/wounded. It's more obvious that he feels like he's responsible for it all, setting him up to willingly give up his own life...

- FRED. I'm just...devastated. They didn't show how he died. Although Ron's reaction to his death is heartbreaking, we see it through Harry's eyes and it seems more - detached, somehow? It's definitely not as gut-wrenching as I thought it would be. This could be a good thing. I wish Fred and George had more of a presence in this film - their one line didn't set them up for any sort of real connection with the audience when Fred died.

- Lupin, Tonks. Holding hands. This is hard to see, even if we knew it was coming. I wonder if people watching this movie without reading the books will feel this strongly about beloved (but not main) characters dying. My guess is that they won't quite realize the indelible impression they have made on us...and that's too bad.

- Whoooooa. Snape's pensieve memories are hauntingly beautiful. His childhood begins as if in a dream, it is gorgeous and eerie all at once - and saturated with such color. Oh, how he loved her. I am blown away by the visuals in this film.

- I can NOT handle seeing Lily die. When she is singing to Harry as he sits in the crib...I am losing it. More than I ever did while reading the books. I read this book before I had children. Now I am experiencing this on a whole other level, and it's too much. And goodness, the flashbacks to the earlier movies are so beautifully done.

- I can't figure out the Snape/Dumbledore relationship. It feels to me (although remember, we are seeing this through Snape's memories), that Dumbledore took advantage of Snape's love for Lily. It feels like Dumbledore pushed Snape. A LOT. He pushed him into everything, and I don't know that he ever really understood the depths of Snape's capacity to love. And again, totally entranced by the acting here, everyone is in such fine form - it's mesmerizing.

- Snape died never knowing if he had succeeded in keeping Lily's son safe. He died feeling as though Dumbledore was raising Harry "like a pig for slaughter" (and now Harry knows that he is a Horcrux), and I only wish that Dumbledore told him his grand plan - although I understand why he didn't. It adds to Snape's tragic story, layer upon layer of sadness.

- I've stifled a few sniffles up until this point, but this - this moment when Snape discovers Lily is dead (and backstory: how HE played a part in her death) this is when my tears have begun to flow freely. I would hazard a guess at this moment being the best most powerful moment of the series.

- I want to hug Alan Rickman as he holds Lily's lifeless body - while so obviously ignoring the crying baby. This speaks more than a thousand words. It was all about his love for her, until his very last breath. "You've got your mother's eyes." I NEED MORE TISSUES.

- This part here, where he tells Hermione and Ron that he's off to die - this seems odd. It's a deviation from the book, which is fine - but Ron looks so...constipated maybe? What a bizzare reaction to "I'm the last Horcrux, I have to die now, it's been nice knowing you." He could have been all, "thanks for the memories, mate." but there wasn't even a pat on the back. Just indigestion. Odd. It breaks my heart that Hermione wants to go with Harry. It did seem as if they all knew what had to be done, even without Harry telling's a big moment for the trio and everything they have been through (apart from the tummy issues).

- Will casual observers get that the Resurrection Stone is in the Snitch? Will they care that Harry isn't wearing the invisibility cloak? Should I tell them? Am I insane? YES. They really downplayed the Deathly Hallows in both Parts 1 and 2, didn't they?

- I love that all the lines from the book have been faithfully adapted in the forest scene. It's beautifully done, and if I wasn't already an emotional wreck from Snape's memories I might have cried a bit more here. But this scene was expected - Snape holding dead Lily blew me away and broke my heart.

- Harry's dead (ish). The scene was everything it should have been. I have to admit that when I read the book I totally looked up images of flaying and immediately hurled. I've been curious to see if seeing flayed babymort on screen would make me feel the same way. It did.

- Kings Cross scene: This scene way more profound for me than the forest scene, I don't know why. I wish there was more of Dumbledore’s backstory with his family and Grindelwald but it's understandable that it was cut. This line in particular by Dumbledore has me reeling with emotion: "Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it."What a nod to the world Rowling has created for all of us with her words.

- Very nice touch with Narcissa, as Harry comes back, it speaks volumes about love overcoming fear, etc.

- Now that Harry's dead, Voldie's become completely unhinged. He's prancing around Hogwarts, strutting his stuff like a proud (beakless) rooster, and WHOA. He's HUGGING Draco. AWKWARD. Join the Dark Side, friends! We have cookies! And hugs!

- His laugh is making me laugh. You've gone soft, Voldie!

- Neville's speech is making me cry again. Damn you, Matthew Lewis and your stirring displays of emotion!

- Things are moving super fast again: Harry's alive! Sweet Jellybeans! I love that they kept Molly Weasley bitching Bellatrix out, even if it seems totally random. Harry's going after Voldie, chasing him around the castle, and now flinging both of them off the cliff - what did he think that would accomplish, exactly, sans magic even? MIGHTY MORPHIN' HARRY/VOLDIE FACE! That was the weirdest thing ever.

- Neville gets his golden Horcrux moment. In slow-mo even. That did not disappoint. I think Neville deserves his own spin-off series - but only if Matthew Lewis stars in the movies.

- Elder Wand Power! That'll show you, Voldemort! The final battle is, meh - probably because we all know what is going to happen. And it did! Ew, gross. Voldie flaking away in the throes of death looks like a very bad case of dandruff. It's not visually very pleasing at all. But ding dong, LV is dead! Let us rejoice with some tea and crumpets! How very British.

- Harry broke the Elder Wand? Without using it to fix his own wand first? Small but IMPORTANT detail, script writers. Okay, and this whole trio on the bridge thing is quite funny. The panning out in particular, while they stare off at...what, exactly?

- The epilogue is partly poignant, and partly hilarious. Firstly, there is NO WAY they look that good nineteen years later. I know what nineteen years does to a body, and Ginny needs a mummy tummy. Putting her in a dowdy skirt ain't gonna cut it. Ron, on the other hand, looks like he's wearing a padded tummy - if not, then I just insulted Rupert Grint's abs. Sorry, mate. My abs feel your abs' pain. The HP Next Generation kids are quite adorable, and even though Harry looks like a very unconvincing thirty something year old, his scene with Albus Severus is sweet.

- And the very last shot of the trio looking at the train pulling out of the station, waving goodbye - to their children, to their past, to the books, to us...that is well done, indeed.

- Did they show Harry's scar at the end? I forgot to look!


And that's the review, friends. If you are reading this, then thank you for sticking with it until the end. My overall impression was that this was a spectacular send-off to the Harry Potter movie series, it included so much of what made us fall in love with this story in the first place. There were laughs, there was darkness, constant action, and above all there was magic. Yes, the movie moved at a blindingly fast pace, but that was to be expected, as this was more of an action film than anything else. Still, it was incredibly faithful to the original story, to the overall good-vs-evil plot, and it was so, so well acted.

Now that I've had a few days (and weeks) think about it, I'm even more convinced that this last film will remain as the best of the series. It was the finest kind of film adaptation - even now people are talking about how the final book was brought to life on screen. I couldn't help but notice that in the theater, the people who were crying the hardest (and it didn't matter what gender they were) were the ones who read these books as children themselves. I was quite a bit older when I began the series (and it's telling that I cried the most when Lily died to protect baby Harry) but for those who grew up with these characters, I am sure that saying good bye means much more than simply walking out of a darkened theater. For them, it means an official end to a childhood, and to all the magic and wonder that Harry Potter has brought to all of our lives.

And honestly? Watching this movie made me giddy with anticipation...because I can not wait to share the magic and wonder of this incredible story with my own kids someday very, very soon.

Inara and I, in 2005 - the day Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released. I tried to get her interested in it, but all she wanted to do was eat the pages. Perhaps I misjudged the appropriate age to get her started on HP. By a decade.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mischief Managed, Part One.

It's been a challenge for me to write up this review for the last Harry Potter movie. It was the shortest movie of the eight, and yet somehow, I have more notes about this film than I ever imagined possible. I have no idea why I have so much to say about the topic of Harry Potter, and I have no excuse other than basking in the full realization that I am a HUGE nerd. I'm (surprisingly) okay with it, too.

What I have loved so much about the book series is that it's a damn good story - and you know that I am a sucker for a good story. As I sat watching and absorbing this last film, I realized that finally, finally those emotions I had experienced when I first read the books had been translated to film. I don't know if it's because this is the last Harry Potter hurrah, but I was transfixed for the duration of the movie. With this film, the splendor and magic and yes, the mischief of the Harry Potter universe has  been more than well managed. The hardest part truly, is saying goodbye.

Here then are my notes, in their entirety, for the review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two. For the sake of brevity (ha ha ha HA), I'm splitting this post up into two parts - I did tell you that I had a lot to say, didn't I? I apologize to those of you who are not Harry Potter fans, this two-post deviation of extreme geekiness is going to hurt a little, but I promise you that all will be well after I get it out of my system.

For all the rest - thanks for bearing with me. I know I promised you this days ago...I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long. I wish I had a great excuse, but the truth is that I'm so enjoying these summer days with both Yousuf and Inara home for the holidays. My blog productivity is at an all-time record low, and you sweet readers are so patient to put up with me. Enjoy part one, and please do let me know what you thought of the film below in the comments...I always look forward to reading your words!

Inara helped me get ready for my movie outing, supplying me with all the necessary essentials: A watch (to know when it was time to come home), tissues (which she tried to wipe my face with while they were in the packaging, hence the pirate-eye face), a notebook and pen (to do important writing), and some "light reading" (to read before the movie started). 
Yousuf scoffed while taking this photo and commented on my dueling obsessions. 
What can I say? I told you that I was a sucker for a good story...everyone knows it!


- I've got my pretzels, I've got my milkshake, and now I've got a very big-headed person sitting right in front of me. What I don't got is stadium seating - maybe I should have splurged on those 3D seats after all...

- Betty White. Betty White? Why is everyone around me talking about Betty White? Did something happen to her?

- Yay! I've got teenagers sitting on either side of me! Now when people turn around to see who was wolf-whistling, I can just point at THEM.

- I swear that a seven year-old just walked in to the theatre with her mother. Isn't this a bit dark for seven? Maybe seven is more mature than I remember (or maybe more mature than I was)?

- Fie On You, Big Head! I need a booster seat.

- Wow. They didn't waste any intro time, just jump right on into it, why don't you? No suspenseful baritone voice saying, "Previously, on Harry Potter?" Where's my recap? I'm old and feeble and need recaps.

- Ah yes, the Elder Wand, Voldie, the crypt. It's all coming back to me...

- Okay, this movie is DARK. Literally. I can hardly see my notebook! Wait. Is this supposed to be in black and white? Where's the color? Ah, I see. It's meant to be drab and colorless and depressing...eeenteresting.

- ooooh...Snape towering in the window. His expression is so...what? Anguished. Perfection by Allan Rickman - in the very first scene.

- Dobby! Waaaah! Is it too early to break out my tissues? Can I do it quietly? OH NO I CAN'T. People are turning around. I'm pointing at the teenagers.

- Exactly how old is Willow/Griphook/Flitwick now? Does the man never age? He's positively sprightly!

- I never understood this part about wand allegiances. Are there actually two wands that Harry is in control over? I know that the Elder Wand considered Harry it's master, but did Draco's wand do the same as well? Was Harry the Big Cahuna of Wandville, with two wands under his control? Why am I geeking out like this right now in the middle of the movie??

- I really disliked Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix, she was just too over the top, too many hysterics. But HBC as Hermione as Bellatrix is fantastic. She has every Hermione-ism down pat, even down to the nervous hair petting.

- ooooh, love the goatee, Won-Won. It suits you. Very Old Spice manly. Here come the wolf-whistles...not from me OF COURSE. Heh, heh, heh.

- The decent into Gringotts reminded me of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which I saw when I was six months old...just in case you're wondering if I'm ancient). It made me want to hurl then AND now. So glad this isn't in 3D. Old people get nauseous, you know.

- HERMIONE HAS CLEAVAGE. Wowza. They totally zoomed in on it too. I guess they're making a case for her being all grown if we needed the reminder.

- Yuck. Fried Goblin who didn't even know he was facing a dragon. I feel sorry for the little dude. And also strange that Ron just passed it off as a joke, and that Harry was okay with it. Totally against their character.

- LOVE THIS. Harry to Hermione as they plan their escape from Gringott's: "Hermione, when have any of our plans ever actually worked? We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose." That's like the past six books in a nutshell. And yes, only a true HP nerd would think that. Also, Hermione is totally Bad Ass on that dragon.

- I love how they are drenched to the bone after escaping, stripping down their skivvies, and yet still discussing serious matters. They could be discussing the perfect tuna salad recipe for all I care because all I see is nekkid boy times 2. And all I hear are wert whirls (not from me OF COURSE).

- Interesting about Voldemort being able to feel the destruction of Horcruxes. I like it. Voldie is having such a bad day, and he is stress-relieving through mass killing. That is SO unhealthy, Mr. V. Awww, and you went and killed Willow too. Have I ever mentioned how weird it is to see Ralph Fiennes without a nose? He has such a prolific schnozz's sad that he can't use it to his full disposal in these films. Because, you know, it would be handy to be able to smell...stuff. I've heard it really adds to character presence.

- Man, they go from scene to scene to scene SO FAST. Or perhaps I am missing something when I start ruminating about noses. Snap to it, George! Pay Attention!

- Erm, how did they get to Hogsmeade? Did I miss something? No using the invisibility cloak? Have they even mentioned the cloak yet? DEATHLY HALLOWS, PEOPLE. It's the name of the have to at least talk about them!

- Aberforth is fantastic. They did a wonderful job of making him resemble Dumbledore, and they way he speaks is so reminiscent of D. as well. Love.

- Oh hello, Arianna. So nice to see you here - why do we know nothing else about you, or about Dumbledore's backstory? Isn't all of that somewhat pertinent? I wonder if a non HP-obsessed person would care...

- HELLO, NEVILLE. My, my how we've grown. Talk about screen presence, I swear that Matthew Lewis is going to be the next Clive Owen. Just you wait and see. They even SOUND the same. And they give the same sultry face too, it's uncanny:

A Clive for every generation! What could be better?

- Ah, Dumbledore's Army - that group of rag tag misfits who will change the world. How I love them! I also dig the humor added to the movie, even in times of crisis ("Not sure what the item is. Not sure where to find it.", and I can never get enough of Cho's accent. It's rad.

- Ginny! Of course she doesn't care about you, Ronald. Great line, though ("Six months she hasn't seen me and it's like I'm Frankie First Year"). I wonder if this will be the funniest scene in the movie?

- Okay, so the students marching in formation are very disturbing.

- I love to hate Snape (the character). In the movie however, I am alllll over Allan Rickman. His drawn out enunciation and then whispered threats have me in goosebumps. Oh, and Maggie Smith is no less formidable. She hasn't been in the past few movies as often as I like, but she is KILLING it here.

- Wand fight! Superb acting, love the way McGonagall stepped in front of Harry. Take that you not-so-traitorous traitor! Ooooh...notice how Snape is only using defensive spells? Am I the only one who notices these things? Probably. But who cares! Yeah, yeah, yeah - go go go!

- The acting here is simply outstanding. I can't get enough. Everyone has totally stepped it up, even Daniel Radcliffe (shocking, I know. But I always thought he was the most awkward of the trio). I'm no "real" critic, but I'd say his underacting is far more riveting to watch this time around.

- Dude, this is scary. It's half horror movie, half adventure. Eeeeek! I want my hubby! (Note: I have no idea what this is referring to!)

- McGonagall kicked Slytherin house out?!? What the? That's not right. You're supposed to give them a chance to pick sides! Ah, well. In the words of one Mr. Ronald Weasley: "That's unfortunate." Hah!

- The statues animating are FANTASTIC. And I'm caught by how the teachers look so sad to have to make Hogwarts defend itself. Although seeing McGonagall lead the army of stone statues is really a treat.

- "I've always wanted to use that spell." So well delivered by Dame Maggie, possibly the best line in the movie. McGonagall was one of my favorite characters in the books, that line is PRECISELY the reason why. She kicks some major baddie backside!

- The Battle of Hogwarts aerial scenes, the preparation and the protection spells extending ghost-like over the grounds...this is so much better than I envisioned it in my head when I read the book. It's captivating and haunting at the same time. So much darkness, so much hope.

- Okay, so I am going to take this opportunity to gush over Luna. She is so wonderful, and supportive of Harry, yet she always forces him to see reason. Why didn't they hook up? They totally should have.

-  Here come the baddies, with Voldie and Bellatrix leading the charge. And there is Helena back to her freaky/funny ways. Why is she loping around like that? She looks like a stunned gorilla. Those big overhead views of the Death Eaters coming, that's quite chilling.

- Scary ghost lady! Did they change the story with her a bit? No matter, the point about the diadem is still made, and she is hella freaky when she yells at Harry! Yikes!

- Oh man, I cannot see Remus knowing what's going to happen to him. Or Fred. Crud, now I need tissues. I can tell that the teenagers around me are getting weirded out by my random outbursts of emotion. Deal with it, kids. I'm old. I get emotional.

Here ends Part One.  We're out of town for the weekend, so Part Two of the review will follow upon our return...sometime next week. Sorry to be so vague, it's just that our summer plans keep taking us on new and exciting adventures. I will return however, with Part Two to share with you. In the meantime, let me know what you thought about the movie. Let's revel in our geekery together!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Heart For Art.

Heart For Art is the name of a movement started by my friend and fellow blogger, Lerner. It began when she read this post by our fellow ANTM contributor Eden, and instead of reading those powerful words and then going on with life, Lerner decided to do something absolutely shocking.

She decided to do something about it.

There has been much talk lately about bloggers who travel to developing nations and then share their first-hand impressions with their readership. "Poverty-tourism", the naysayers are calling it - a shameful, cynical, demeaning term if I've ever heard one. Critics say that these experiences are more about the bloggers, these larger-than-life conjurers of words, than the people who are actually suffering. And their words, they say, don't actually mean anything. Words don't inspire action.

Oh, how wrong those jaded souls are.

When Lerner emailed me saying just how much Eden's post had affected her, and that it had inspired her to do something for the girls living in a group home in Bali - to show them that there are people cheering them on in their journey to become strong young women, I immediately replied. I sent her some virtual fist-pumps and then asked her one very simple thing: Tell me how I can help.

Because that is MY reality as a blogger. My reality is grounded in the belief that words are more powerful than we have the capability to imagine. The words that flow from the first-hand experiences of bloggers are meaningful. They carry weight, and they have the power to spur action. Our words have the power to change the world, if even on the minutest of scales.

This is why I blog. This is why I continually beg you to take part in my crazy altruistic giveaways. This is why I am asking you to join Heart For Art. 

The concept behind Heart For Art is incredibly simple. You can read about the details in today's post at Lerner's blog, but basically it's that bloggers around the world are joining forces today to ask their readers to make art and send it to the young girls in Bali. In return, the girls will send their artwork back to us. That's it.

Today, break out your art supplies with your children, grandchildren, or even on your own and draw from your heart. Draw about your world, your life, your experiences - anything that inspires you, and then tuck that drawing into an envelope and send it to one of the addresses below. It will be forwarded to the young girls in Bali, and believe me, your images will mean more to them than letters (which they won't be able to read, given that English isn't their native language). Your first-hand impressions will show the girls that the world is a great big place that is filled with wonder and possibility. Art will enable us to connect on an emotional level; through art we can let them know that we care, that they are definitely not alone.

This isn't just an exercise in appeasing our Western guilt. This, my friends, is us making a difference.

This is the real deal.

Heart For Art. Please be a part of it with me, and please use it as a springboard to talk about the reality of the world with your loved ones. I've found that these simple conversations are powerful in and of themselves, because they lay the foundation for a future of selflessness, and of empathy. Even the youngest children can grasp these concepts when they see us modeling them for them in our everyday lives.

I sat down with Inara yesterday afternoon and talked with her, openly. We found Bali on a map, and talked about how far away it was from us, what it must be like to live there. I told her that there were children her age living there that didn't have their own parents to take care of them, but that it didn't mean that nobody cared about them. Without prompting, she said that she cared about them too. I asked her if she wanted to help me draw a picture for the girls, to show them what her part of the world was like. We talked about drawing the things that were important to us in the hopes that it would tell the girls that they were important to us, even if we were far apart.

She proudly drew this to share with her "friends from Bali", and I am so incredibly touched by it. I hope the girls will be, too. I hope they will see and feel the love we're sending their way.

For more information on Heart For Art, Foundation 18 (the name of the group home in Bali), and to find out about more ways you can help, please read today's post at Lerner's blog, Stay At Home Babe.

To send your Heart For Art to Bali, just mail your piece(s) to either one of these two addresses. They are both overseas, so it will be more expensive than regular mail, but it's still relatively inexpensive if you're just sending paper envelopes.

Lerner Farrington
Attn: Heart For Art
18 Suffolk Rd
Lincoln, LN1 2UG

Cate Bolt
Attn: Heart For Art
PO Box 239
Glass House Mountains, Qld 4518

And if you have any other questions at all, feel free to email HeartForArt18 at gmail dot com.

Thanks so much, friends.

Friday, July 15, 2011


We've been back from our trip to Toronto for a couple of days, and I am just beginning to get back into the groove of things. Ten days away from home equals at least two days of catch up in terms of sleep, unpacking, and my all-time favorite (not) LAUNDRY. Blech. I swear we have at least eighteen loads of it to do before we're back on track. Yay for me.

You know the only thing worse than doing eighteen loads of laundry? It's folding eighteen loads of laundry. And so, faced with the prospect of spending the rest of the summer in auto-pilot-robotic-folding mode, I am avoiding it at all costs. Instead, I'm perusing the pictures we took last week (we did manage to break out the big camera on a couple of occasions after all) and wishing I could be transported back in time, making laundry instead of folding it.

One series of photos that keeps me cracking up is this, of me and my best bud, partner in crime, kind-hearted doppelgänger, Banks (not her real name) aka Konie (not her real name) aka Ok (pronounced awk, also not her real name). Her real name is....practically unpronounceable, much like my own, one of a zillion billion things we have in common such as our love of shoes and salty foods and our ability to produce freakishly adorable children (don't ask us how we do it! It just KEEPS HAPPENING.)

We can't help but have fun whenever we're together, mostly because we never run out of things to say...most especially when we're trying to take pictures:

Banks and I have known each other since the ninth grade in high school, when she and I, the only South Asians in our entire town (not true, but it felt that way because there were so few of us) kept getting mistaken for sisters by our teachers. In ninth grade geography, our teacher insisted that Banks take a day off to celebrate Eid with my family. Never mind that she was Hindu. Or that she didn't even have the same last name as me.

Let's just say...we went with it. Heh heh heh.

We're older now, all grown up with kids of our own to confuse with one another (it's true - our eldest daughters look remarkably similar...again, no idea why history is repeating itself but we're going with it because it would be really boring of us not to).

The big flower clips were unplanned - but not unexpected - because Banks and I are basically 

And we still can't take a decent picture together to save our lives. Watch as I unhinge my lower jaw to devour her baby. Of course Banks is always poised and proper - I've always been the far more troubling sibling.

 Oh hello there, cute little baby. You look awfully tasty...

Come a little closer, dear - Reen Mashi (not my real name OBVIOUSLY) won't hurt you...


It wasn't my fault. She just looked so...delectable. And she practically stuck her whole hand into my mouth - I had no choice but to take a little nibble. What's a missing finger between family members anyway?

Perhaps the best thing about our friendship is that it has aged well. Neither time, nor distance, nor circumstance has diminished our relatioship. If anything it's given us a renewed perspective on all the memories we've made. We've had a tremendous life journey together, filled with adventures and heartbreak, all the stuff that movies-of-the-week are made of...and yet, our friendship has remained simple. It's utterly devoid of pretense, and at the same time it is filled to the brim with constant, unexpected happiness. And surprise. And lots and LOTS of laundry.

We took one last shot together and noticed with fading grins...

...Inara and Nissa in their beautiful birthday dresses...

...absolutely DRENCHED in mud.

For the love of a good friend, for the familiarity that comes with years of indelible memories entwined, for the ability to accept all that life throws our way, and to carry on supporting one another as I know our children will, together...

...for all of this (minus the laundry), 

I remain always and eternally grateful.

(You'll notice that Banks' daughter remained mud-free. It seems as though my devilish little imps were the ones who inherited the troubling genes - I have NO IDEA where they got it from.)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Mama Made Me Do It.

My mom says that I have been shirking my blogging duties of late. Just last night, she said that it wasn't very professional of me to pack up and leave the country without at least an explanation to my legions of loyal readers about my whereabouts, or my return date.

I told her that a) I do not have legions of fans (to which she replied, "Well. I'M a fan, but I guess that doesn't count, does it?"), and b) I'm not very professional about anything (to which she replied, "You really need to work on that, Mahreen").

And you wonder where I get my tactfulness from.

Basically, this post is the grown-up equivalent of when you get caught doing something bad to someone else by your mom and she makes you own up to it by marching you straight over to that someone else's place with your ear twisted tightly between her index finger and thumb to apologize and mean it or else.

(Aside: I think being back here in my childhood home is messing with my head.)

So I'm dedicating this post to my mom, who is hovering over me as I type. Luckily, she can't see what I'm typing, or else I'd be a goner.

As far as she's concerned, I could be typing up a heartfelt apology to all of you.

Or my magnum opus.

Or letters to publishers.

I'm smiling now, so she thinks I'm really getting into this. And I am, but not for the reasons she thinks I am.

I'm smiling because I'm about to type up the following:

Poop Booger Snot Fart.

(She thinks I'm working really hard at this.)

(Aside: Being back in my childhood home is TOTALLY messing with my head.)

Yesterday, we went to go see my best friend from high school, and halfway through our visit I had a bit of spazz out moment. I was watching our children play together and they acted so much the way we did when we first met, calling out made-up nicknames to one another from across the park, oblivious to the world around them as they filled the air with their carefree laughter. I had an out-of-body moment as I remembered us goofing off in the same way not so very long ago. Weren't we trying to skip out on our Physics class just yesterday? How were we now old enough to be discussing Spanxx and comfortable (yet fashionable!) footwear? I have to say that I pulled a Vizzini from The Princess Bride and spluttered, "IT'S INCONCEIVABLE!" - to which I received many a quizzical stare because this entire line of thinking had occurred inside my own head.

Did I mention that I turn 33 in exactly four days, and that I have pulled two gray hairs from my head in the past 48 hours? I'm sure that the two are related and I hate it.  I don't even know why I pulled those two tiny gray hairs out - I didn't think about it, I just reacted, instinctively. If I continue on at this rate, I'm sure I'll go bald before my 34th birthday. I very much need to get a grip on reality. I'm old.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I want my Mooooooooooooommmmmmy!

Being back in Toronto feels like a time warp - a part of me is in complete and utter denial about having grown up and gone away, especially when I'm surrounded by the Museum Of My Childhood. The other part of me feels so very old. Ancient, even. I feel like I'm as dusty and creaky (and gray!) as all the old medals and trophies lining my parents' mantel. I do love seeing my past through the eyes of the future - that is to say, my children. Everything is wonderful and amazing to them. The thought that their parents were ever children themselves, it's...absolutely...INCONCEIVABLE!

I had plans to take many, many pictures of the girls while we were here, exploring my old haunts and visiting my old friends, but to tell you the truth I haven't even unpacked the camera. Life just seems different up here in Toronto, tucked away in the homes of our loved ones. I can't quite put my finger on it, the best description I can muster is that it feels like I'm living in a bubble. A big, lazy, happy, content bubble.

We'll be here until the middle of next week and at the end of it all we'll have not much to show for it, other than the memories we will have made. But oh, what memories they will be. Inara turns five the day before me and she and I are having joint b-day celebrations. We've also been a part of a retirement party, a wedding, water park and zoo excursions and so, so, so, much more. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but for once, I just want to soak it all up. I want to enjoy every little moment of sunshine, squeezing the marrow out of every gloriously manic-inducing, sleep-deprived moment. For once, I want to be here - present for it - instead of trying to capture it.

At least until my Mama makes me unpack that darn camera, to which I shall say... 

Poop Booger Snot Fart.

And then I'll do it anyway, because when you're at Mama's house you'd better do what Mama says.

How many days until we're back home again?
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