a Harry Potter prequel: The Gathering Storm

I was 8 when I first met him. He had a quaint-shaped scar on his forehead, wears clothes a few sizes too big and sleeps in a cupboard under the stairs. They called him ‘the boy who lived’.

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My journey with books started with JK Rowling’s Harry Potter (and Tolkien’s Middle Earth series) when I was very, very young. I remember staying up way past my bedtime with nothing but my book, a flashlight and the earnest hope that at 11 I too will get my Hogwarts letter. Although that never came, I was gifted with so much more.

Through Harry, JK opened me to creativity, emboldened me to pursue my dreams no matter how lucrative and encouraged me to keep reading and writing even when very few kids around me shared that passion. Harry taught me that it’s okay I’m different. It’s okay that sometimes people don’t get me, that I make the most unlikely friends, that troubles badger me continuously no matter how hard I try to stay away from them and that I often care too much.

I think I speak for most in the Potterhead fandom when I say that we will never get enough of her and the magical world she has so laboriously created. Harry Potter is a part of me and in his world, I feel at home.

So if at any point you’re just like me, in search for chances to ditch the Muggle movie sphere, I’m inviting you to support, donate, share and/ or watch The Gathering Storm. It’s a fan-made movie, written, acted, shot and financed by very creative and dedicated Potterheads.

As there are no trailers out yet (well, not that I know of), the most that I could tell you is that it chronicles the Marauders and other prominent wizards and witches during their time (most of them in their 6th year at Hogwarts) as they face a world at war with the dark arts and those who practice it. Although this has no ties with Warner Brothers or the original producers of the Harry Potter franchise, expect that it will do the prequel justice  because Potterheads love the story too much to let it suck. Trust me, that’s all the reassurance you’ll need. Plus I’ve seen all their efforts on Tumblr and I have to say I’m very impressed and EXTREMELY EXCITED to see the movie.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it before but my favorite character in the Harry Potter series is Sirius Black (and you’ll know why in the coming entries) so I’m definitely looking forward to getting to know him more especially before Azkaban and see his interactions with the 3 other Marauders, Prongs, Moony and Wormtail. Then there’s Jily, one of the most loved, as proven by the thousands of fan fictions about it, ships to ever grace any book. I’m sure so many would be squirming to see the red head fall for the trouble maker, finally on screen.

Before I go off into the Harry Potter daydreamland (as you might have noticed), allow me to end this entry by inviting you to visit this site: http://marauders-fanfilm.tumblr.com and their social media sites mentioned on their page and help out in whatever way you can.To all the non-potterheads, we’d be deeply indebted to you and rest assured you won’t regret it. To my fellow Potterheads, you guys know what we’ve got to do. Get the word out and support the cool people who came up with this in the first place.

And lastly, to the cast and crew of The Gathering Storm, thanks for braving the unknown and putting your heads and efforts together to make this happen. We all need some magic back in our lives and your movie might do just that.

MISCHIEF MANAGED.

struggles of a would be writer

Okay okay okay. I haven’t been able to update you with my crazy rants and musings about life the past week, well the past WEEKS. Sorry. I’ve been busy writing. What’s new about that? I do write. YES,  articles and blog entries for other people everyday but this is different- it’s something way out of my comfort zone.

I’m writing a literary fiction. *cringe*

photo from anavar-immela, via thewritershelpers

It’s not my forte I know. Much like poetry, I read more than write them but I thought tis the year to challenge myself. I’ve had this idea and have been scribbling drafts for awhile. By ‘awhile’ I mean 16 years but I never found the courage to organize them and actually write the chapters because I was really terrified- mostly of sucking but also of the possible transference in the characters. That fear got the better of me so all I have of all those years of daydreaming and imagining characters are doodles on the sides of some scenes I thought would be too cool not to at least write down.

Then I just decided I wanna do it. I WANT TO WRITE A BOOK.

It doesn’t have to get picked up by some major publishing house (that would be great though) but I just really wanna put it out there. I want to put my daydreaming to rest and actually make something out of it.

So here I am struggling… enjoying every moment but still struggling.

If you have any tips, words of encouragement, moral support whatsoever, I’d be so happy to hear them.

justifying genius

I read this article about J.D. Salinger today regarding his malicious relationships with women not even half his age. The article was written by Joyce Maynard, one of the women who claims to have been with Salinger at the tender age of 18.  Here’s the site just in case you too might want to read it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/opinion/sunday/was-salinger-too-pure-for-this-world.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&smid=tw-share

In summary, the article delves deeper into the much private life of the renown author praised for the purity of his works and devil may care attitude towards the literary standards of his day. Maynard exposes his attempts to woo women, still very young and susceptible to suggestion through his genius. She was one of those women, one as easily disposed of as she was welcomed into his home. She concludes with the suggestion that we live in a society where the genius of a man justifies the cruelty and abusive nature of his actions.

DOES THE GENIUS OF A MAN TRULY EXCUSE HIM FROM HIS WRETCHED WAYS?

Rather than blogging solely about Salinger and his relationships, I would much prefer to blog about the idea of ‘saving qualities’– those we often hear as kids when our parents describe some problem child who went off the rails. Do we really live in a world where the good we’ve done justifies the bad we continuously do? If we do, then do we wanna keep living that way?

Looking at pop culture and the stars they cultivate, we can see a lot of wrongs like people dropping clothes here and there, an actress confidently and explicitly seducing a married man on set, doing illegal drugs and convincing their fans to do the same, calling people ugly and stupid or even randomly distributing sex videos. These doesn’t even cover half of it and yet people continuously fall to their feet and would even go to the extent of defending their obvious and gross mistakes, excusing them because they somehow contribute to our entertainment. It’s almost insulting.

I personally don’t think that reprehending a man’s actions makes his ability to write, sing, act or perform well any less great but it makes a society which forgets or ignores all his misgivings because of his amazing talents one that cares very little for true value, one that’s willing to compromise morals for the superficial. That’s not a community I wanna be a part of, neither should you or anyone for that matter.

Look at it this way, we’re treating people like balance sheets. If he’s a great asset we disregard all other assets that might be depreciating because of him. We’re too focused on what he’s giving that we turn blind to what he’s destroying. Life and the values that we learn from it are not plus and minus operations. You can’t erase one with the other so don’t go about life thinking that you’re excused just because you contributed a great deal of pluses to the world especially if those pluses have nothing to do with the hell you’re putting other people through.

This is not exactly a condemnation of Salinger and especially not his works. I will forever be a fan of Catcher and the Rye and will continue to look up to the man for his amazing contribution to literature but if he indeed did what the article chronicles then I am one disappointed lass.

I don’t believe it to be fair for his genius of a mind and his talent for the written word to excuse him from establishing basic moral distinctions and this goes for every other brilliant soul still confused by what they can and cannot do, should and shouldn’t do.  

how I got here (a reblog)

For all the ills I think of marriage, for all the fallacy I think it stands for, there are narratives and stories that touch my heart so deeply I wanna believe in marriage and forever again. This is one of them. It opens your heart to hope.

Love may not be easy. You may  not have it at your first try but if your endure long enough, one will come you way and change your life. 

When I told him I would never marry again, I meant it. We were holding hands in a restaurant in Santa Barbara, Calif., on our first weekend away, and I was hiding my nerves behind the boldness of high heels and a garter belt. I wasn’t trying to bait the hook, or reel in the lifelong bachelor.

Newly single after 20 years, I loved how he admired my long hair and subtle décolletage, how he laughed at my witty banter. I felt like a femme fatale, and I liked it. Nothing serious, nothing permanent. We were there for the fun. There was a gleam in his eyes as he raised his glass in a toast: “To Lady Beautiful.”

Now he looks at me, bald and bedridden, finger swollen around my wedding band, and I can’t help but say I’m sorry.

We had met two decades earlier, when I took his writing seminar in Los Angeles. During the break, he admired my engagement ring. He was cute in a preppy way, but I was not the kind of girl to be “hot for teacher.” He had a policy of inviting students to stay in touch, so I did.

Ten years later, the phone rang in the kitchen where I was making dinner while my daughters played underfoot. I wiped my hands on my sweat pants, and picked up my crying 4-year-old to comfort while I answered.

He had received the invitation to the book party for my first novel and was calling to congratulate me. Despite thousands of students, he went out of his way to call. Surprised, I shifted my daughter to the other hip, smoothed a loose hair toward my ponytail and hung up the phone smiling.

Another decade and a difficult divorce later, I climbed out of bed and studied my bedraggled reflection in the mirror. After years of being an exhausted work-at-home mom, it was time to take better care of myself, to control my destiny, to set a good example for my daughters. I needed a new project, one that would reclaim my maiden name.

When I sat down to begin writing, I dug out my faded notes from his class, now adorned with crayon marks and coffee stains. These notes had guided every book I had ever sold. I owed this man a thank you.

I wrote an e-mail offering to buy him a coffee. Then I hesitated. I had just begun to date, so naturally I wondered if he was single. I envisioned three kids and a house in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. This was networking, I told myself. What did I have to lose? I hit “send.”

The next day, he e-mailed back: “I’ll buy the coffee.”

We met at the Coffee Bean in Santa Monica, where he waited in shorts and flip-flops. His hair was gray, but he wore the same preppy glasses, had the same dimples. I was surprised he wasn’t more businesslike. Then again, I wore a dress.

He didn’t remember me. He didn’t recall our long-ago class or phoning to congratulate me years later. He admitted that he clicked on the link to my Web site and saw my picture.

Our coffee lasted three hours.

“Would you like to have dinner?” he asked as we walked to the door. “We don’t have to call it a date. We could just eat at the same time.”

I was confused. “Why wouldn’t we call it a date?”

“Most people don’t like dating,” he said.

“I love dating,” I said.

“You’re new.”

We began to date. Every Friday he drove to the valley to take me out to dinner. After a long week, I loved dressing up and dining out. I loved having my girls pick out my earrings, then answer the door to a man bearing flowers. Sure, they were teenagers, eager to get rid of me on a Friday night, but they also saw how a woman should be treated. And they saw that I was a woman worthy of respect.

Soon, we added Saturday nights at his house. After shuttling the girls to their activities, I primped for hours, shedding my valley mom skin with each mile through Topanga Canyon to Santa Monica. Once the ocean was in view, my transformation was more than physical. By the time I arrived at his house, I had done everything possible to make myself beautiful, to feel beautiful. And he was a worthy audience, appreciating every detail.

All I had to do was breathe.

A few months later, I stood at the back of the bookstore where he presented his new book. Several attractive and sophisticated women turned their heads to look at me. Old girlfriends, I guessed. I was more impressed than jealous. One came over and pointed at my name in the acknowledgments — risky business for him to include me, I had thought, since we were only dating.

“Are you the new girlfriend?” she asked.

I hesitated. We were certainly exclusive. He had just bought me a bathrobe for his house. Yet, there was something wicked and wonderful about being The Girlfriend. It meant he wanted me. It meant we were having fun.

His entire family showed up while I was on a book tour in Denver. I was about to read a sex scene when I realized this would be their first impression of me.

So what? I thought. I was just a girlfriend. I could do what I pleased.

Four years passed. I splurged on lipstick and lingerie and continued to play the part of femme fatale.

On our next vacation, he told the hotel clerk it was our anniversary, so they upgraded our room and served us Champagne. I began to wonder if we would ever have a wedding anniversary. Now, when he called me Lady Beautiful, I felt cheap.

There was no logical reason for us to marry. I had no interest in having more children and he was fine without. I could get my own apartment; I still wanted to set a good example for my daughters. If I was going to be single, why not keep my options open? I loved him. But if I couldn’t reel him in, it was time to cut bait.

It took weeks for me to get the courage to confront him. He listened patiently, then began to laugh. “Never getting married were your terms,” he said, “not mine.” Later, he showed me a yellowed newspaper article he had clipped after our first romantic weekend in Santa Barbara. It was entitled, “How to Buy an Engagement Ring.”

We were married overlooking the ocean in Malibu. He wanted a real wedding so his parents could be there. I teased that he wanted them to know he would have someone to care for him in old age. His Ivy League friends flew out to see the notorious bachelor’s demise with their own eyes. He asked me to wear a real wedding dress so he could show off his beautiful bride.

Days before our second anniversary, I learned I had breast cancer. Within months, I lost my hair, my eyelashes, everything that made me beautiful.

On Valentine’s Day, we sat in front of the fire until I could smell plastic burn on the back of my wig. I couldn’t taste the chocolate or drink the wine, but he seemed happy, eating shrimp and being together. He called me Lady Beautiful, but I thought he was just humoring me. It made me feel worse.

Soon there were fewer good days. My fingers were numb, my nails purple, and my eyes too teary to see. I couldn’t keep up the charade, didn’t want to. After my high heels were exiled to the back of my closet, he helped me stumble around the neighborhood in slippers. He sat with me through chemo until I shooed him away.

I didn’t want him to see me like that, helpless and weak. The chemo fog descended and I couldn’t get my words right or my thoughts clear. I felt stupid. I felt ugly. Most of all, I felt guilty.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “This is not what you signed up for.”

“That may be true,” he said. “But neither did you.”

Now we sit in bed watching TV every night. My favorite fashion show is on and he turns to me. “This is the perfect date,” he says.

I laugh, thinking he is teasing as he rubs my aching legs. But when I look at his face, he is smiling, his attention already back on the screen.

And I realize that he was the one who did the bait and switch. He made me believe that he responded to my strength and beauty, so I felt strong and beautiful. Maybe this was never the romance I imagined. Maybe I was the shallow one. He saw more. As we sit in bed and watch the beautiful women, I am not jealous. He still thinks I am one of them.

All I have to do is breathe.

the ink that revealed me

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The concept of a written work is to preserve an age, a feeling, an experience and move readers through it. When a person writes there is an untold story that comes wrapped with the ones which are told, masked by open words are motivations that the writer goes through before inking narratives. Often we do not only meet the characters of fiction or the philosophies of the author but also their deep-seated desires.

When I write I do so aimlessly at first. I write and do not stop until I feel I have exhausted all the words out of my system. I do not try to stop the words from flowing no matter how dissonant they may sound because I want my works to genuinely convey how I feel or think at that moment. Words are the bulldozers that destroy the walls guarding my secrets. I may not reveal them directly but to those who brilliantly read between lines and find the links between my stories and the way I wrote them, you may know me more than half the people I talk to everyday.

Writing is not only liberating it’s also revealing. Imagine writing about that wretched day on your journal, how your car stopped so you had to push it, how the line was too long so you had to wait for an hour to get your sandwich, how there is so much to do so you had to work late to finish everything. When you finish writing it down, you’ll feel less irritated because you were able to put it all out there and let it go. You’re free! But you’ll also see that despite how crappy that day was supposed to be, you pushed through it and never gave up. You found the strength to push your car, the patience to wait in line and the dedication to go over and beyond for your job. That’s a revelation of your character. You may not notice it but your works reveal a part of you that you may not intend to show.