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There are times in life when Freud’s “oceanic feeling” seems to permeate the air a little more than usual, when you can feel the a larger, stronger pulse beating along with your own. Now, you may think it trivial, and perhaps you don’t understand, but for me the premiere of the final Harry Potter film is one of those times.

Everywhere I see fans of the series – fans from the very beginning, from the first book – lamenting on how they feel like their childhood is somehow ending, that the culmination of this truly epic series is much more than the end of a franchise. We had a preview of this feeling when the last book came out, but then we still had the films to look forward to. And now that the last has come, what we should be feeling is a mystery. (Of course, the movie posters and trailers screaming “It All Ends” don’t really help.)

It is particularly strange to think about this at this very time for me, because so much is changing. I’ve finished grad school, people I’ve grown to care for are leaving, and the life I have known is becoming something else entirely. It feels very fitting and bittersweet to have the Harry Potter series finish at the same time when I feel that I am really not a child anymore at all. And to me, this is what the series is all about: growing up, accepting one’s fate but also determining it, acknowledging death and new beginnings.

Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings as well, have become more than books and movies; they are stories and memories that have become entwined with my own, and I feel very lucky to be a part of that.

At the movies on Saturday, there was a group of young teenagers sitting behind me who were clearly very big HP fans, and I realized that I must view the series differently than they do, because the release of the books and films have coincided with important moments in my life. While they are still kids, I’m not. Watching the film, there was this triumph in seeing the characters play out their roles, but also the sadness of everything being finished.

It reminds me of a line at the end of the original Winnie the Pooh movie that always get’s me, when Christopher Robin is growing up and must leave. It goes something like this:

Winnie the Pooh: Good-bye? Oh, no, please, can’t we go back to page one and do it all over again?

Narrator: Sorry, Pooh, but all stories have an ending, you know.

Or perhaps this can be summed up by Luna, the character most comfortable with death, who says that the things we lose have a way of coming back to us, in the end. Actually, many characters in HP convey some form of this idea – J.K. Rowling is clearly on to something.

The wonderful thing, however, is that the books and the films will always be there to go back to, to relive, and to make new again. And in that way, things may change, but they are never truly lost.

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When pumpkins start appearing on porch steps….

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…it’s almost Halloween!

The lovely time when culture encourages us to over-consume sugary-sweets, carve the heck out of pumpkins, cover our houses in fake spider webs, and roam the streets dressed up like crazies. But it’s so much more than that…

tumblr_lal1e2O3Iv1qzahuvo1_500.png  Maybe it’s because my birthday is right before the 31st, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the day. I plan my costume all year – this week I even got an idea for next year’s costume while shopping for this year’s.

But really, Halloween is a celebration of the my favorite season, full of caramel apples and hot cider. It rings of old-America, with all our graveyards, Edgar Allen Poes, witch trials, haunted houses, Pagan rituals, and vaguely-Puritanical beliefs.

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And let’s not forget Harry Potter….

But you know what might be one of the best things about Halloween?

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It’s the last holiday before the “Holidays” begin. The last hurrah before the gift-buying, turkey-baking, tinsel-throwing madness. You don’t have to visit your long-lost relatives, or worry about what to get your annoying brother for Christmas, or shovel snow out of the driveway.

You may, however, dress up like a complete tramp by adding “sexy” to any normal costume (sexy Chewbacca, anyone?), mix candy corn with alcoholic beverages, wear some form of animal ears/antennae to work, or watch It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown for the 10th time.

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Revel in the season, folks, and soak up all the lovely Orange

(…before the explosion of Red and Green.)

It should come as no suprise- after all I’ve been devouring (with an intense literary appetite) Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings for years. But, on a whim, I picked up the latest craze and decided to read. Fast forward to 3 am that night, and I am fully involved in Twilight. And why? If you aren’t really into books and I can’t quite begin to explain. But – I did find this lovely quote

“Meyer and Rowling do share two important traits. Both writers embed their fantasy in the modern world–Meyer’s vampires are as deracinated and contemporary as Rowling’s wizards. And people do not want to just read Meyer’s books; they want to climb inside them and live there. James Patterson may sell more books, but not a lot of people dress up like Alex Cross. There’s no literary term for the quality Twilight and Harry Potter (and The Lord of the Rings) share, but you know it when you see it: their worlds have a freestanding internal integrity that makes you feel as if you should be able to buy real estate there.”

And, although Meyer’s books are quite “clean” in that kids won’t really get what all is going on, underneath “they are absolutely, deliciously filthy”(according to newsweek). Honestly there is some raw emotion being expressed there, even if there isn’t that much physical touching. But, in my opinion, those books that make you feverishly turn the page just hoping that something will happen between the couple can be much more erotic that when you get every detail. Besides – I’m sure there are many fanfic people out there writing enough sultry material to satisfy any over-curious reader.

I did find Meyer’s religious background a bit unsettling at first, after all I didn’t expect her to be Mormon when I was reading, especially compared to other works that have been written by very religious writers. Some Christian fiction can be so heavy in ellusions to what a ‘proper’ Chrisitan should be that the text loses it ease, and trades effortless narration for overwrought prose. However, aside from the no sex till marriage thing I haven’t found anything nagging. In fact, the sheer force of the book is enough for me to forget the author entirely. Honestly, the few Mormons I actually ever knew were a bit odd, and weren’t allowed to go to dances or even group dates, which seemed silly. (But then, these people may have been odd all on their own, faith excluding.) One family would stand in their driveway every October 31st, saying “We don’t celebrate Halloween” to trick-or-treaters. I’m glad to see that Meyer has not shyed away from anything supernatural, but rather embraces it, and even prefers it to humanity.

There is an odd effect produced when a book attempts to appeal to both teens and adults alike, like Harry Potter and Twilight. Somehow there is a fairytale-like sense of realism where things can happen which we yearn for but know can’t happen, for whatever reason. And it is odd that in this realm of magic and vampires that readers can find actual human passion and truth, in their most basic form. And I think that is what grasps the modern reader. So many more realistic adult novels are wonderfully expressive, dark or not, but some lose that universality that comes from more fantastic stories.

In any case, these books have a hold on me, as many already do. I have already “devoured” (sorry, couldn’t help it) the first two books, two to go. And I’m quite happy that I came upon this series late in the game, because there is NO WAITING! The final book comes out in ONE day, and I already reserved it. No more waiting for years….because waiting for Harry Potter was tortuous enough.

All this excitement about books has me extremely encouraged, because it means the public can finally get excited about something that doesn’t have to be plugged in. It means that literature still has a power over us…

…It means there is hope that someday, after all my years of pricey education, that there will be a job waiting. It means there is hope for humanity.

Last year, I read an article which declared that this was the year where “Harry Potter Saved Reading.” I sincerly hope this is true – that people are reaching past television and video games for something more substantial, something that can reach our minds, and persuade them to come alive.