Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy Birthday, J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter

WARNING: This post contains Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows spoilers.

In honor of today being both J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter's birthdays, I figured I'd post a transcript (found on mugglenet.com) of the live chat J.K. Rowling had with her fans yesterday morning. It has plenty of spoilers in it and lots of fun answers you probably always wanted to know, like the muggle song played at Dumbledore's funeral and so on. I still must write my review of Deathly Hallows, but for now, this will do. Have fun!

J.K. Rowling: I'm here and I can't wait! Bring on the questions!
Leaky Cauldron: What, if anything, did the wizarding world learn, and how did society change, as a direct result of the war with voldemort? (i.E., not as a result of harry, ron and hermione's future careers.)
J.K. Rowling: The Ministry of Magic was de-corrupted, and with Kingsley at the helm the discrimination that was always latent there was eradicated.
J.K. Rowling: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny et al would of course play a significant part in the re-building of wizarding society through their future careers.
Ryan Love: From your fans at thesnitch.Co.Uk. Weren't we supposed to see ginny display powerful magical abilities in “deathly hallows” and find out why it's significant that she's the seventh child? Was her main role in the books only to be harry's love interest?
J.K. Rowling: Hi Ryan! Well, I think Ginny demonstrated powerful magic in the final battle, and that for a sixteen year old witch she acquitted herself pretty well. I don't remember ever saying that her 'seventh child' status would prove particularly
J.K. Rowling: important in the last book, though - are you sure I said that?!
Georgina: Did lucius malfoy, and all the other escaped death eaters, go back to azkaban
J.K. Rowling: No, the Malfoys weaseled their way out of trouble (again) due to the fact that they colluded (albeit out of self-interest) with Harry at the end of the battle.
Elisabeth: In the chapter of kings cross, are they behind the veil or in some world between the real world and the veil?
J.K. Rowling: You can make up your own mind on this, but I think that Harry entered a kind of limbo between life and death.
Renee: From reading about the original owners of the deathly hallows, the peverell brothers, i'm wondering if harry and voldermort are distantly related voldermorts grandfather ended up with the resurrection stone ring ?
J.K. Rowling: Yes, Harry and Voldemort are distantly related through the Peverells.
J.K. Rowling: Of course, nearly all wizarding families are related if you trace them back through the centuries. As was made clear in 'Deathly hallows', Peverell blood would run through many wizarding families.
Fomy: What did you feel when you finally wrote the kiss, awaited so much by the fans, of ron and hermione
J.K. Rowling: I loved writing it, and I loved the fact that Hermione took the initiative!
J.K. Rowling: Ron had finally got SPEW and earned himself a snog!
Angela Morrissey: Why is it that albus dumbledore can see harry under his invisibility cloak at certain moments? (during the series is the cloak only infallible to those who do not own a deathly hallow).
J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore, who could perform magic without needing to say the incantation aloud, was using 'homenum revelio' -
J.K. Rowling: - the human-presence-revealing spell Hermione makes use of in Deathly Hallows.
Jamie Lewis: What ever happened to winky
J.K. Rowling: She's still at Hogwarts, and she was one of the oncoming house-elves who attacked the Death Eaters in the final battle.
Katieleigh: Does hermione still continue to do work with spew and is life any better for house elves!
J.K. Rowling: Hermione began her post-Hogwarts career at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures
J.K. Rowling: where she was instrumental in greatly improving life for house-elves and their ilk. She then moved (despite her jibe to Scrimgeour) to the Dept. of Magical Law Enforcement
J.K. Rowling: After a few years as a celebrated player for the Holyhead Harpies, Ginny retired to have her family and to become the Senior Quidditch correspondent at the Daily Prophet!
Camille: What or who is peeves exactly, is he linked with the blood barons story?
J.K. Rowling: No, Peeves is not linked to the bloody Baron's story.
J.K. Rowling: He is a spirit of chaos that entered the building long ago and has proved impossible to eradicate!
Jessie : Were the deathly hallows based on any realworld myth or faerie tale
J.K. Rowling: Perhaps 'the Pardoner's Tale', by Chaucer.
Alicepie : What happend to luna, did she get married who to?
J.K. Rowling: Luna became a very famous wizarding naturalist who discovered and classified many new species of animals (though, alas, she never did find a Crumple-Horned Snorkack and had, finally, to accept that her father might have made that one up).
J.K. Rowling: She ended up marrying (rather later than Harry & co) a fellow naturalist and grandson of the great Newt Scamander (Rolf)!
Rosi: What does in essence divided mean?
J.K. Rowlin : Dumbledore suspected that the snake's essence was divided - that it contained part of Voldemort's soul, and that was why it was so very adept at doing his bidding.
J.K. Rowling: This also explained why Harry, the last and unintended Horcrux, could see so clearly through the snake's eyes, just as he regularly sees through Voldemort's.
J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore is thinking aloud here, edging towards the truth with the help of the Pensieve.
Superhans: What was duldeys worst memory?
J.K. Rowling: I think that when Dudley was attacked by the Dementors he saw himself, for the first time, as he really was. This was an extremely painful, but ultimately salutory lesson, and began the transformation in him.
Casey Kunze: Who killed remus and tonks I think if I knew this, I would get some closure over the very sad, but understandable, death of two of my favorite characters
J.K. Rowling: I'm so sorry! I met a couple on launch night who had come dressed as Lupin and Tonks, and I felt dreadfully guilty as I signed their books!
J.K. Rowling: Remus was killed by Dolohov and Tonks by Bellatrix.
Laura Trego: Was the absence of snapes portrait in the headmasters office in the last scene innocent or deliberate
J.K. Rowling: It was deliberate. Snape had effectively abandoned his post before dying, so he had not merited inclusion in these august circles.
J.K. Rowling: However, I like to think that Harry would be instrumental in ensuring that Snape's portrait would appear there in due course.
Stephanie: If the wand chooses the wizard, then why do wands work when passed down from father to son eg neville had his fathers wand
J.K. Rowling : As established by Ollivander, a wizard can use almost any wand, it is simply that a wand that chooses him/her will work best. Where there is a family connection, a wand will work a little better than a wand chosen at random, I think.
James Farrell: How did umbridge manage to conjure a patronus while wearing the locket when harry wasnt able to
J.K. Rowling: Because she is a very nasty piece of work. She has an affinity for this horrible object, which would help rather than hinder her.
Tineke: What happened to percy did he return to his job at the ministry
J.K. Rowling: Yes, the new improved Percy ended up as a high-ranking official under Kingsley.
Su: How did neville get the gryfindor sword, is there a link to the hat
J.K. Rowling: Yes, there is very definitely a link to the hat!
J.K. Rowling: Neville, most worthy Gryffindor, asked for help just as Harry did in the Chamber of secrets, and Gryffindor's sword was transported into Gryffindor's old hat -
J.K. Rowling: - the Sorting Hat was Gryffindor's initially, as you know.
J.K. Rowling: Griphook was wrong - Gryffindor did not 'steal' the sword, not unless you are a goblin fanatic and believe that all goblin-made objects really belong to the maker.
Steph: Will azkaban still use dementors?
J.K. Rowling: No, definitely not. Kingsley would see to that. The use of Dementors was always a mark of the underlying corruption of the Ministry, as Dumbledore constantly maintained.
Smallbutpowerful: On behalf of all harry potter fans who consider themselves to be hufflepuffs could you please describe the hufflepuff common room as it is the only common room harry hasn’t visited
J.K. Rowling: The Hufflepuff common room is accessed through a portrait near the kitchens, as I am sure you have deduced.
J.K. Rowling: Sorry - I should say 'painting' rather than portrait, because it is a still-life.
J.K. Rowling: It is a very cosy and welcoming place, as dissimilar as possible from Snape's dungeon. Lots of yellow hangings, and fat armchairs, and little underground tunnels leading to the dormitories, all of which have perfectly round doors, like barrel tops.
Camille: How is george getting along without his twin
J.K. Rowling: Well, I don't think that George would ever get over losing Fred, which makes me feel so sad. However, he names his first child and son Fred, and he goes on to have a very successful career, helped by good old Ron.
Jessica Lynn: Did hagrid have to be able to see thestrals in order to train them if so, whose death did hagrid witness
J.K. Rowling: Hagrid has seen many deaths in quite a long life, so yes, he can see Thestrals.
Allie: What did dumbledore truly see in the mirror of erised
J.K. Rowling: He saw his family alive, whole and happy - Ariana, Percival and Kendra all returned to him, and Aberforth reconciled to him.
Snapedinhalf: You promised that someone will do magic late in life in book 7. I've now read it three times but cant work out who it might have been! Please help!!
J.K. Rowling: I'm sorry about this, but I changed my mind!
J.K. Rowling: My very earliest plan for the story involved somebody managing to get to Hogwarts when they had never done magic before, but I had changed my mind by the time I'd written the third book.
Christiana: How did voldemort get his wand back after he was in was exile
J.K. Rowling: Wormtail, desperate to curry favour, salvaged it from the place it had fallen and carried it to him. I admit that would have been a bit of a feat for a rat, but they are highly intelligent creatures!
Amanda: Hiya, ive grown up with harry and the gang, did any of the characters change in any unexpected ways as they grew up
J.K. Rowling: They all became pretty much what I expected/planned them to become.
J.K. Rowling: Of course they changed as I wrote, but nobody surprised me very much!
Ravleen: How much does the fact that voldemort was conceived under a love potion have to do with his nonability to understand love is it more symbolic
J.K. Rowling: It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union - but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him.
Michael: Why didnt fawkes come back to help harry I would have thought that since harry was so loyal to dumbledore, fawkes would have been harrys new pet
J.K. Rowling: the Ministry no longer used them to torment its opponents.
J.K. Rowling: You cannot destroy Dementors, though you can limit their numbers if you eradicate the conditions in which they multiply, ie, despair and degradation. As I've already said, though,
J.K. Rowling: The enchantment under which Tom Riddle fathered Voldemort is important because it shows coercion, and there can't be many more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a union.
Lechicaneuronline: Do you think snape is a hero
J.K. Rowling: Yes, I do; though a very flawed hero. An anti-hero, perhaps. He is not a particularly likeable man in many ways. He remains rather cruel, a bully, riddled with bitterness and insecurity - and yet he loved, and showed loyalty to that love
J.K. Rowling: and, ultimately, laid down his life because of it. That's pretty heroic!
James Farrell: Voldemort never told anyone about his horcruxes, so how on earth did regulus black discover his secret
J.K. Rowling: Horcrux magic was not Voldemort's own invention; as is established in the story, other wizards had done it, though never gone as far as to make six.
J.K. Rowling: Voldemort dropped oblique hints; in his arrogance, he did not believe anybody would be clever enough to understand them.
J.K. Rowling: (He does so in the graveyard of Little Hangleton, in front of Harry). He did this before Regulus and Regulus guessed, correctly, what it was that made Voldemort so convinced he could not die.
Jaclyn: Did lily ever have feelings back for snape
J.K. Rowling: Yes. She might even have grown to love him romantically (she certainly loved him as a friend) if he had not loved Dark Magic so much, and been drawn to such loathesome people and acts.
Boggo: Would you choose the hallow that is the cloak, like youre supposed to, and would you be tempted to use the others
J.K. Rowling: My temptation would be Harry's, ie, the Stone. But I believe, as does Harry ultimately, that the greatest wisdom is in accepting that we must all die, and moving on.

Cornersoul: So what happens to all the dementors where will they go will they be destroyed if so, how
J.K. Rowling: You cannot destroy Dementors, though you can limit their numbers if you eradicate the conditions in which they multiply, ie, despair and degradation. As I've already said, though,
J.K. Rowling: the Ministry no longer used them to torment its opponents.
Michael: Why didnt fawkes come back to help harry I would have thought that since harry was so loyal to dumbledore, fawkes would have been harrys new pet
J.K. Rowling: Something had to leave the school for good when Dumbledore died, and I decided that would be Fawkes. Dumbledore was a very great and irreplacable man, and the loss of Fawkes (and the fact that he was 'non-transferable'!) expresses this symbolically
Roseweasley: Why was colin creavey still a student at hogwarts when he was muggleborn surely he would have been locked up and interogated, not allowed back to school therefore, he shouldnt have died
J.K. Rowling: Colin wasn't a student. He sneaked back with the rest of the DA, along with Fred, George and the rest. He ought not to have stayed behind when McGonagall told him to leave, but alas - he did.
Delailah: How does dumbledore understand parseltongue?
J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore understood Mermish, Gobbledegook and Parseltongue. The man was brilliant.
Jessie: Will lockhart ever recover?
J.K. Rowling: No. Nor would I want him to. He's happy where he is, and I'm happier without him!
Annie: Does the wizarding world now know that snape was dumbledores man, or do they still think he did a bunk
J.K. Rowling: Harry would ensure that Snape's heroism was known.
J.K. Rowling: Of course, that would not stop Rita Skeeter writing 'Snape: Scoundrel or Saint?'
Vio91: Is teddy lupin a werewolf
J.K. Rowling: No, he's a Metamorphmagus like his mother.
Nippy23: We see socks a lot throughout the series, such as dobby’s love for them and dumbledore’s claim to see them in the mirror of erised, what’s the reason behind all the socks
J.K. Rowling: Nothing deep and significant, I'm afraid. They're just a comedy item.
Lady Bella: Whose murders did voldemor use to create each of the horcruxes
J.K. Rowling: The diary - Moaning Myrtle. The cup - Hepzibah Smith, the previous owner. The locket - a Muggle tramp. Nagini - Bertha Jorkins (Voldemort could use a wand once he regained a rudimentary body, as long as the victim was subdued).
J.K. Rowling: The diadem - an Albanian peasant. The ring - Tom Riddle snr.
Sampotterish: Why did dumbledore want ron to keep his deluminator
J.K. Rowling: Because he knew that Ron might need a little more guidance than the other two.
J.K. Rowling: Dumbledore understood Ron's importance in the trio. He wasn't the most skilled, or the most intelligent, but he held them together; his humour and his good heart were essential.
Carol: Do dementors have souls
J.K. Rowling: No, that's what makes them frightening!
Jess Mac: What was the third smell that hermione smelt in the amortentia potion in hbp (ie the particular essence of ron)
J.K. Rowling: I think it was his hair. Every individual has very distinctive-smelling hair, don't you find?
Natalie: Are house divisions as prevalaent in harry’s children’s hogwarts as in the previous generations
J.K. Rowling: Slytherin has become diluted. It is no longer the pureblood bastion it once was. Nevertheless, its dark reputation lingers, hence Albus Potter's fears.
Nithya: Lily detested mulciber,averyif snape really loved her,why didnt he sacrifice their company for her sake
J.K. Rowling: Well, that is Snape's tragedy. Given his time over again he would not have become a Death Eater, but like many insecure, vulnerable people (like Wormtail) he craved membership of something big and powerful, something impressive.
J.K. Rowling: He wanted Lily and he wanted Mulciber too. He never really understood Lily's aversion; he was so blinded by his attraction to the dark side he thought she would find him impressive if he became a real Death Eater.
Alborz: What does it mean to be the master of death
J.K. Rowling: As Dumbledore explains, the real master of Death accepts that he must die, and that there are much worse things in the world of the living.
J.K. Rowling:
J.K. Rowling: It is not about striving for immortality, but about accepting mortality.
Barbara: I was very disappointed to see harry use crucio and seem to enjoy it his failure to perform that kind of curse in the past has been a credit to his character why the change, and did harry later regret having enjoyed deliberately causing pain
J.K. Rowling: Harry is not, and never has been, a saint. Like Snape, he is flawed and mortal.
J.K. Rowling: Harry's faults are primarily anger and occasional arrogance.
J.K. Rowling: On this occasion, he is very angry and acts accordingly. He is also in an extreme situation, and attempting to defend somebody very good against a violent and murderous opponent.
Nicole: What do you think is the funniest moment you have written in the series
J.K. Rowling: It sounds very vain to answer this! My favourite in this book is probably that line of Ron's 'really captures the scope and tragedy of the thing, doesn't it?'
Courtney: What child did harry give the marauders map to if any
J.K. Rowling: I've got a feeling he didn't give it to any of them, but that James sneaked it out of his father's desk one day.
Karin: What did petunia wanted to say to hary at the end of the dursleys departing
J.K. Rowling: I think that for one moment she trembled on the verge of wishing Harry luck; that she almost acknowledged that her loathing of his world, and of him, was born out of jealousy.
J.K. Rowling: But she couldn't do it; years of pretending that 'normal' was best had hardened her too much.
Leaky Cauldron: Please pose and answer the question you'd most like to address about the series! (a ha, turned it back on you.)
: Oooo, you're tough.
J.K. Rowling: I must admit, I always wondered why nobody ever asked me what Dumbledore's wand was made of!
J.K. Rowling: And I couldn't say that, even when asked 'what do you wish you'd been asked...' because it would have sign-posted just how significant that wand would become!
Nora: Is auntie muriels tiara important
J.K. Rowling : No, sorry... except to illustrate what an old bat she is.
Nigel: Can harry speak parseltongue when he is no longer a horcrux?
J.K. Rowling : No, he loses the ability, and is very glad to do so.
Nikki: How did sirius twoway mirror end up with aberforth or is it another twoway mirror
J.K. Rowling: You see Aberforth meeting Mundungus in Hogsmeade. That was the occasion on which Dung, who had taken Sirius's mirror from Grimmauld Place, sold it to Aberforth.
Tierney Roth: If moody got a magic eye, and wormtail got a magic hand, couldnt there be some way to form a magical ear, if only to cover up the hole and make george look more symmetrical
J.K. Rowling: Yes, he could wear a false ear (I'm starting to giggle at the thought. Perhaps he's better off with the hole!)
Lucy: What is dumbledores boggart?
J.K. Rowling: The corpse of his sister.
Pablo: What is toadface umbridge doing now
J.K. Rowling: Glad to see you like her as much as I do!
J.K. Rowling: She was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned for crimes against Muggleborns.
Tina: Do the muggles notice that there arent any weird things going on now that voldemorts gone
J.K. Rowling: Yes, the world seems a much sunnier place (literally - with the Dementors gone the weather gets better!)
J.K. Rowling: We are having a heavily Dementor-influenced summer here in the UK.
Katie Mosher: How exactly do muggleborns receive magical ability
J.K. Rowling: Muggle-borns will have a witch or wizard somewhere on their family tree, in some cases many, many generations back. The gene re-surfaces in some unexpected places.
Maggie: Is rita skeeter still reporting
J.K. Rowling: Naturally, what could stop Rita? I imagine she immediately dashed off a biography of Harry after he defeated Voldemort. One quarter truth to three quarters rubbish.
Maggie Keir: Was hermione able to find her parents and undo the memory damage
J.K. Rowling: Yes, she brought them home straight away.
Lola Victorpujebet: Was minerva in love with albus
J.K. Rowling: No! Not everybody falls in love with everybody else...
Rachel Nell: Jkr, thank you for such amazing books! I would like to know how come noone seemed to know that lily and snape were friends in school they were obviously meeting for chats, etc didnt james know their past
J.K. Rowling: Thank you for your thank you!
J.K. Rowling: Yes, it was known that they were friendly and then stopped being friends. Nothing more than that would be widely known.
J.K. Rowling: James always suspected Snape harboured deeper feelings for Lily, which was a factor in James' behaviour to Snape.
Abbey: Will the chuddley cannons ever win the quidditch world cup
J.K. Rowling: Bless them, perhaps. But they'd need to replace the entire team and down several cauldrons of Felix Felicitas.
Hayleyhaha: Why did regulus have a change of heart
J.K. Rowling: He was not prepared for the reality of life as a Death Eater. It was Voldemort's attempted murder of Kreacher that really turned him.
J.K. Rowling: Scorpius has a lot going against him, not least that name. However, I think Scorpius would be an improvement on his father, whom misfortune has sobered!
Stephval: Is scorpius as misguided as his father, or has draco improved and taught his child(ren) better
J.K. Rowling: Sorry, technical hitch - just answered a question before seeing it!
J.K. Rowling: I am clearly getting better at Legilimency.
Lona: Did draco and harry lose their animosity towards eachother when voldemort died
J.K. Rowling: Not really. There would be a kind of rapprochement, in that Harry knows Draco hated being a Death Eater, and would not have killed Dumbledore; similarly, Draco would feel a grudging gratitude towards Harry for saving his life.
J.K. Rowling: Real friendship would be out of the question, though. Too much had happened prior to the final battle.
Hannah: Why was snape so badly groomed
J.K. Rowling: Hmm. Good question. Poor eyesight? Did he look in the mirror and believe he was gorgeous as he was?
J.K. Rowling: I think it more likely that he valued other qualities in himself!
Ea : Will the stone ever be found, since it was left just sitting on the forest floor
J.K. Rowling: I think not. I imagine that it was squashed into the ground by a centaur's hoof as the centaurs dashed to the aid of the Hogwarts fighters, and thereafter became buried.
Adwait313: Has the jinx on the dada teaching post at hogwarts been lifted
J.K. Rowling: Yes, at last! Incidentally, I know some have asked about Quirrell with regard to this question.
J.K. Rowling: He was teaching at Hogwarts for more than a year, but NOT in the post of D.A.D.A. teacher. He was previously Muggle Studies professor.
Emily: What ever happened to aberforth
J.K. Rowling: He is still there, at the Hog's Head, playing with his goats.
Lee: I recently purchsed nimbus twothousand it has a terrible knack of veering left is their anything I can do (wihout the use of a wand it was broken by a hippogriff) to repair it back to it original straight flying state
J.K. Rowling: Hm. I would advise a trip to Arkie Alderton's Kwik-Repair Shop. Never attempt to mend a broom at home, the consequences can be disastrous.
Abjoppotter: Is narcissa malfoy really a death eater
J.K. Rowling: No, she never had the Dark Mark and was never a fully paid-up member. However, her views were identical to those of her husband until Voldemort planned the death of her son.
Emzzy: Did mr weasley ever get around to fixing sirius motorbike
J.K. Rowling: Of course, and it ended up in Harry's possession.
Lulu: Do you think dumbledore was a little more fond of ron than either ron or harry believed
J.K. Rowling: Yes, I do. Through Harry's account of Ron, and from reports of the professors who taught Ron, Dumbledore understood Ron better than Ron ever knew, and liked him, too.
Chelatina: Was firenze ever welcomed back into the herd
J.K. Rowling: Yes, the rest of the herd was forced to acknowledge that Firenze's pro-human leanings were not shameful, but honourable.
Kristy: What was your favorite scene to write in deathly hallows?
J.K. Rowling: Chapter 34: The Forest Again.
Chely: James patronus is a stag and lilys a doe is that a coincidence?
J.K. Rowling: No, the Patronus often mutates to take the image of the love of one's life (because they so often become the 'happy thought' that generates a Patronus).
Jon: Since voldemort was afraid of death, did he choose to be a ghost if so where does he haunt or is this not possible due to his horcruxes
J.K. Rowling: No, he is not a ghost. He is forced to exist in the stunted form we witnessed in King's Cross.
Angela Morrissey: Were there seven horcruxes not six as dumbledore intimated to harry if so, does this mean that voldemort had an 8 part soul not a 7
J.K. Rowling: Yes, Voldemort accidentally broke his soul into eight parts, not seven.
Laura Trego: Did hermione really put a memory charm on her parents she says she did but then about 50 pages later tells ron shes never done a memory charm
J.K. Rowling: They are two different charms. She has not wiped her parents' memories (as she later does to Dolohov and Rowle); she has bewitched them to make them believe that they are different people.
Maura: How come voldemort was no longer employing occlumency against harry, as he was in the 6th book
J.K. Rowling: He is losing control, and unable to prevent Harry seeing into his mind. The connection between them is never fully understood by Voldemort, who does not know that Harry is a Horcrux.
Gandalfxj9: Did krum ever find love
J.K. Rowling: Of course, though he had to go back to his native Bulgaria to do so.
Twinkletoes: Why did you feel that hedwigs death was necessary
J.K. Rowling: The loss of Hedwig represented a loss of innocence and security. She has been almost like a cuddly toy to Harry at times. Voldemort killing her marked the end of childhood. I'm sorry... I know that death upset a LOT of people!
Lecanard: Will we see harry and his friends having their own history on chocolate frogs cards
J.K. Rowling: Definitely, and Ron will describe this as his finest hour.
J.K. Rowling: I cannot possibly tell you. Some things are better left unsaid.
Samantha: Was snape the only death eater who could produce a full patronus
J.K. Rowling: Yes, because a Patronus is used against things that the Death Eaters generally generate, or fight alongside. They would not need Patronuses.
Jess: How did nagini could see harry and hermione if they were under the invisibility cloak
J.K. Rowling: Snakes' sense are very different from human ones. They can detect heat and movement in a way that we can't.
Chucky: Have you had another alternatives as book title apart from deathly hallows
J.K. Rowling: The two other possibilities were 'the Elder Wand' (used instead as a chapter title) and 'the Peverell Quest', which I decided against quite quickly. I think the word 'Quest' is a bit corny!
Iglooanne: What would your patronus be
J.K. Rowling: I'd like an otter, like Hermione, but I've got a feeling it might be a large dog.
The Stoic Cycle: Why is it that voldemort is unaware that the gaunt ring is a hallow, when he has worn it (such as in the memory the diary shows harry in book 2)
J.K. Rowling: Wearing the ring would not make the stone work. The stone existed outside the ring originally, and to use it you had to turn it three times in your hand.
Finchburg: Does the dark mark remain on those that voldemort has branded after his death or does the tattoo dissapear now he is gone thanks for considering my question!
J.K. Rowling: My pleasure, Finchburg! The Dark Mark would fade to a scar, not dissimilar to the lightning scar on Harry's forehead.
J.K. Rowling: Like Harry's, these scars would no longer burn or hurt.
Katie Mosher: How is the quibbler doing these days
J.K. Rowling: Pretty well, actually. It has returned to its usual condition of advanced lunacy, and is appreciated for its unintentional humour.
Camille: Dear mrs rowling, while im here I want to thank you for making me laugh, cry (a lot! Most of all for sirius!) since im 11 quite a long time for me as im 20 harrys magic and yours will be with me forever! Thanks!
J.K. Rowling: Thank you very much, Camille, and I'm sorry about Sirius. That man's got a lot of fans.
J.K. Rowling: Mostly female, I might add.
Nicofr: Does winky still drink a lot of butterbear
J.K. Rowling: She's dried out a bit now.
Isabel: Did bellatrix ever love her husband, or did she have love only for voldemort
J.K. Rowling: She took a pureblood husband, because that was what was expected of her, but her true love was always Voldemort.
jenny: How did snape keep his patronus secret from the rest of the order?
J.K. Rowling: He was careful not to use the talking Patronus means of communication with them. This was not difficult, as his particular job within the Order, ie, as spy, meant that sending a Patronus to any of them might have given away his true allegiance.
Darchey: Did voldemort ever love a girl
J.K. Rowling: No, he loved only power, and himself. He valued people whom he could use to advance his own objectives.
Leo: What would your wand be made of
J.K. Rowling: I'd like Harry's wand - holly and phoenix feather.
Brian: Did the da keep the coins?
J.K. Rowling: Naturally. They would be like badges or medals of honour - proof that the owner had been at the heart of the fight against Voldemort from the start! I like to imagine Neville showing his to his admiring pupils.
Tracie: How relieved are you that you can finally talk about the series no more secretkeeping!
J.K. Rowling: I'm elated! It is great to be able to do this at last, I've looked forward to it for so long!
Lou: How did snape get into grimmauld place to get the second half of the letter, if there were protection spells on the house stopping snape getting in
J.K. Rowling: Snape entered the house immediately after Dumbledore's death, before Moody put up the spells against him.
Koen Van Der Voort: Why is the scar on harrys forehead lightning shaped
J.K. Rowling: To be honest, because it's a cool shape. I couldn't have my hero sport a doughnut-shaped scar.
Louie: Did mariettas pimply formation ever fade
J.K. Rowling: Eventually, but it left a few scars. I loathe a traitor!
Katie B: Why was kings cross the place harry went to when he died
J.K. Rowling: For many reasons. The name works rather well, and it has been established in the books as the gateway between two worlds, and Harry would associate it with moving on between two worlds (don't forget that it is Harry's image we see, not necessarily
J.K. Rowling: what is really there.
J.K. Rowling: We seem to have over-run. We've had over 120,000 questions, I've been told!
J.K. Rowling: What can I say? Thank you so much for sticking with me, and with Harry, for so long. You have made this an incredible journey for Harry's author.
J.K. Rowling: I like this question, so I'll take it for my last.
Tess: What muggle song do you imagine would be played at dumbledores funeral
J.K. Rowling: Surely 'I did it my way' by Frank Sinatra.
J.K. Rowling: I'm very aware I haven't answered everything... keep an eye on my website, and I'll try and answer some more questions in due course!
J.K. Rowling: Thanks very much everybody, I've had a great time, and I hope I've covered some of the outstanding questions (I hear a distant roar of 'YOU DIDN'T GET TO MINE!')
J.K. Rowling: That's it... I'm Disapparating. Bye!

John Denver

This conversation transpired earlier this evening while my mom was doing today's NY Times crossword puzzle:

Ima: The John Denver song...is that Annie's Song?
Me: Who's John Denver?

Well, have any of you heard of John Denver? Vote in the poll! I must know - am I legitimate in not knowing who he is, or am I completely not living on the same planet as everyone else? Is it like not knowing Billy Joel? (I love Billy Joel, just fyi)

Monday, July 30, 2007

On Writing

I love to write. I love it so much that I’m extremely particular about what I write, how I write, and when I write. I am often reluctant to write stories because I don’t feel I can do them justice with the meager writing skills I have right now. I get frustrated easily with my writing and constantly feel that there are much better, more creative, more concise ways to express what I am saying and that I just don’t know them. This puts me off writing for a bit until an idea creeps up on me that I can’t just shove away, so I start to write it a little, and then get all discouraged and frustrated again. I feel, somehow, that my ability to express myself is fogged up by...by I don’t know what.

I am great at imagining things. I have a wonderful, vivid imagination and can tell excellent stories off the top of my head. But when it comes to writing them down...I get lost. I mess up. I can’t find the right words. I get annoyed and put it aside and usually never return to it. I have so many half-started stories and almost no completed ones. And it isn’t because I should write. It isn’t because I’m not a writer. I am a writer. If there is one thing I know for certain about myself, it’s that I’m a writer. I was born to write. But how? How do I develop my own style? How do I get better at writing if I keep getting frustrated with myself?

For me, writing is something so personal, it is like revealing my very soul on paper. Especially my stories. Essays, fine. I can show those to people. But stories? Sometimes. It depends to whom. I have so many stories I’m reluctant to share with anyone, even my parents, or maybe especially my parents, because they show a part of my soul, a part of me, that isn’t evident based on my behavior. Even people who know me very well may be surprised by what they find in my writing. A darker side of me comes out in my really serious stuff. Part of why I had such trouble in the fiction writing class I took fall semester of this past year was because I was wary of what I brought in to class. I didn’t want to open myself up to a teacher I barely knew. Barely trusted. And not to the students, either. I was scared. I was hiding myself behind lighter works, funnier stories. Stories that only skimmed the surface of what I can do, that only revealed a tiny glimmer of the huge world that is my imagination. I don’t share my soul willingly.

But if I want to be a writer - a real writer - I have to change all this. And I don’t know how.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's raining, it's pouring

There is a big storm here with lots of thundering and lightening. This also means I keep getting kicked offline. Today would be such a perfect day to get in some real, quality writing. The thing is, all my story ideas are good for novels, but not for short stories. I would like to get started on one of my novels, but I'd like to write a few short stories first to submit places. The thing is...I'm having trouble thinking of good ideas for a short story! Anyone have any suggestions? Not for a full plot, since I don't want to steal a plot from anyone, but for a setting, a character, etc. that I can incorporate in. Sort of like a game! And then I can take all or some of the ideas, mix them up, and come up with a story!

In other news, I LOVE big storms. I just don't like losing my internet connection every two seconds. Or being home alone with HUGE claps of thunder like, er, that one just now. Especially not while I'm in the middle of reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which is, so far, an excellent book but very graphic and, ah, adult rated. And disturbing at some parts, including the walking dead.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mischief Managed? Not Yet.

I would like to note this post by Chana (and I hope the html worked there because I'm on a computer at work that has the words 'crappy computer' written on it and I have to say, it does live up to its name. This internet browser doesn't even let me get to facebook, it's so old. Er, not that I've tried going on facebook while at work. Heh). It talks about a human desire to destroy, especially if you are the type of person who likes to create.

I'd like to put my own spin to it. This is something I've felt nearly all my life.

I am the good girl. I have always been the 'good girl.' When I was little, I rarely got punished in school (okay, there was that one time in Nursery when I threw a book and got sent into the corner, but that's only because the book had been thrown at me and everyone knows that when you get a book thrown at you, you hurl it quickly back), I (nearly) always did my homework, and, most of all, I was quiet. I was shy and because of that, never talked back to the teacher, or to my counselor in camp. I listened. I lined up when we were supposed to line up, I went where I was told to go, I did what I was told to do. At that point in my life, I saw no reason to talk back, no reason to contradict, unless I wanted to push the limit and see how far I could go before I got into trouble. But while I wasn't a goody two-shoes, I saw no reason for getting in trouble if I didn't have to.

The thing is, after having the reputation of 'good girl,' it starts to get tiring. I felt as though I had stopped being interesting. Being a good girl was boring.

In either seventh or eighth grade, we'd had a layl iyun in school (when just my grade stayed back after school and we learned informally and had discussions and things, I don't remember it much) and a bus took everyone from my community home. There was one girl in my grade (not on the bus with us) who was a hypochondriac (I hope I spelled that right. Spelling was never my forte). And I mean, to the point where all of us knew it and none of us liked her for it. And I'm not sure why, but on the way home, as we passed a store selling wheelchairs, crutches, ace bandages, and other medical things, I blurted out, "Hey look, it's so-and-so's store!"

I don't know what made me do it, but suddenly, I heard cheering. The girls on the bus were applauding my nasty comment. They slapped me five and beckoned me to join them in their rambunctious joking around in the back of the bus. For once, I felt included among the obnoxious girls. I was obnoxious. And...it felt good.

The next day, I went back to being the 'good girl,' but from then on, I knew I had it inside of me to be mean, to be obnoxiuos, to be daring when it came to my behavior.

A few summers later, when I was going into tenth grade, I was in sleepaway camp and I had this strong desire to raid the entire devision. Again, I was sick of being the 'good girl.' I wanted to be bad. Luckily, I had a friend in a similar situation.

Now, you have to understand, it wasn't as though I'd never raided before. Despite being a 'good girl,' I was always rather mischievous. I did not consider my summer complete if I didn't go on at least one raid a month. I had a group of friends who I'd always go with and, of course, all the fun was in managing to get to the boys' bunks in the first place - we never actually did much when we got there (we'd usually go in and wake them all up with our flashlights and then run away when shmira [people on duty to catch campers out of bed] came along) but had an awesomely fun time sneaking around camp, hiding under bunks, that sort of thing. And we had gotten caught a few times, but never sent to the main office and I, proudly, did not tell who was with me or who I was when I was asked by a shmira person once. So yes, I was an experienced raider. But what I wanted to do that summer was something different. I wanted to do something destructive.

So my friend and I woke up early the last week of camp and toilet papered the entire campus (our division had our own campus at the end of the main camp). True, it wasn't that destructive, but it was the best we could do at the last minute when we planned the whole thing. And it felt good. I had wanted to do something like steal all the benches in the chadar ochel (dining room) but my friend pointed out that it was too much work for us and too inconvenient because then we'd not have benches, either.

The points is, I know what Chana meant in her post, and still, there is a large part of me completely and utterly sick of being thought of as 'good' all the time. I want to be bad. I want to cause mischief. I want to pull pranks and make trouble and be known as a wild daredevil. It's just that my annoying conscience gets in the way too much.



Fear is something we all have, something that stops us from doing stupid things (well, most of the time). It keeps us focused on where we should be going, what we should be doing, sometimes. For me, I am afraid of losing control.

I am a complete control freak when it comes to myself. I am forever terrified of illness - when you are ill, you don't have control. Oh, sure, you can go to the doctor, take medication, etc. But in the end, it isn't up to you. It's up to God. It's up to how your body handles the illness. People die from being ill and oftentimes, it's not because they didn't try to get better. It's just that whatever they did just didn't work.

This is partly why I am nervous about driving. What if I lose control of the car? Or, more importantly, what if someone else loses control of their car and swerves right into me?

Lately, I have been having daymares (well, like a nightmare only not while I'm sleeping) about head-on collisions, like what happened to my teacher. Yesterday, I was driving home from my newspaper internship and I was in the middle of making a left turn, passing cars right next to me coming the other way in a sort of arc. And for a moment, in the middle of the intersection, there were no lines for the lanes. You just had to go in what had been your lane and what was going to be your lane when you got past the intersection. And I thought, if I turned the wheel just slightly to the left, I'd hit the oncoming cars. That would be bad. There would be a loud crash and it would probably hurt a lot.

Thinking this way shook me up and when I made it past the intersection, I really felt like I had come out of a life or death experience. And in some ways, I had. I chose to stay in strict control of the car. But with the oncoming traffic so close, what if one of them had swerved? What if I sneezed and accidentally crashed?

I don't normally think this way when I'm driving. I used to, when I first started. I used to hear, in the back of my mind, sirens and screaming. That's why I hated driving for so long. Highways are always backed up from accidents. It's so commonplace.

This is what frightens me most about driving, about illnesses, about anything - losing control. If I have control over myself and over what happens to me, I can determine how I will come out of a situation. But if I lose control, it's out of my hands. It's up to someone else. My fate is no longer up to me. And that scares me.

I see. And tell me--


And I thought I was very good! I just wish I wasn't such a slow writer because it got awkward how there were these long pauses between when the guy finished answering my question and when I asked the next one because I had to write it all down so I could get good quotes.

You know, I never thought I'd like reporting since I was always so insistent on being a creative writer only. Strictly stories, no newspaper. But I'm finding that:

a. Writing a reporter-style article still requires creativity and skill, just of a different sort.
b. When I was really young, I used to want to be a detective because I loved solving mysteries and figuring things out. Being a reporter is sometimes like that, even though it isn't real, investigative reporting, I'm still investigating the story, getting the facts straight, trying to find the truth behind things. It's fun. The only thing I have to get over is my discomfort with the telephone.

So I am still mostly a creative writing kind o'girl. But I can stick in a reporter article or two. Sure thing. Yep.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Eye To Eye

The young man stood before the mirror, gazing at his own reflection. He was tall and broad-shouldered, his eyes a clear blue, his dark hair slicked back with globs of hair gel. His blue jeans were faded and ripped at the knee - his own doing from years of wear. He seemed confident, self-aware, the type of guy who had a lot going for him. And yet, that was not the person he saw in the mirror.

No. Reflected back at the young man was a small boy, his face pale, his blue eyes big and round. His dark hair was not gelled back but hung limply around his face, like a stage curtain he could pull closed at any small warning.

Some say that mirrors show us our true souls - who we really are inside. Ghosts, vampires - they do not have reflections because they have no souls. And the young man, he was only a young man in body. His soul, well, it was still growing up.

As he stared down at his reflection, the young man sighed and tried not to despair, hoping with all his might that one day - one day he would truly be able to look in the mirror and see himself as the man he yearned to be, standing tall, eye to eye.

Just for Fun

This post is merely to exercise all of our creativity. You can answer either the first, the second, or both of these questions:

1. If you could be any fictional character for a day - any at all - who would you be and why?

2. Which fictional character do you think you're most like?

I am also doing my very first real, live, in person interview today at my newspaper internship. Whoaness.

I hope you all have a terrific day!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Letter to self

Last night, my dad came to my room and told me I got a letter, commenting that the address looked like my handwriting. I frowned, took the letter, and said it looked like my handwriting from when I was, like, six.

On the back of the envelope were the words: I'm so sorry for this delay. Please enjoy it now!

Curious, I opened the envelope and pulled out the letter inside. This is what I found, in little kid scrawl (very messy little kid scrawl):

June 19, 1995
Dear Erachet,

Today Mrs. [third grade teacher's name] asked us to write a letter that will be mailed back to us in 2005. This is what I would like to say: will my brother stop bothering me and being a pain? Will I still have to go to bed at eight o'clock? Will I go to Israel. I hope so. I hope I get neater handwriting.



Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The early bird

My brother had this discussion with his co-counselor and a camper:

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

One of them (co-counselor or camper) said the egg came first. Why? Because you eat eggs for breakfast in the morning and chicken for dinner at night.

My brother countered with the fact that in the gemara, it says we start the day from the night before. Therefore, our chicken for dinner signifies that the chicken came before the egg.

The real question then becomes, when do you eat dinner? In the winter, the chicken came before the egg, no question. But what about in the summer, when it gets dark waaaay after dinner time?

A more pressing question is, if the early bird gets the worm, what happens to the early worm?

Monday, July 23, 2007

A day of bitterness

Tisha B'av has just begun. I came back from hearing Aicha a short while ago and I thought, it's so easy to lose focus on fast days - any fast day. People concentrate so much on not eating, on counting down when it will be over, on trying to distract themselves. Tomorrow, I have to go to my internship in the city and I know it's going to be weird, it's going to take away from that Tisha B'av atmosphere I've felt nearly all my childhood in summer camp. So how can I make Tisha B'av meaningful, even if I have to treat it like a normal, regular day?

I want to take some time to mention certain tragedies I associate with Tisha B'av. These are tragedies that I've experienced, that I remember, that help me feel the power of the day so that I can truly begin to understand, in an infinitesimal way, what it is like to lose a Temple, a Beit Hamikdash.

1. When I was nine years old, my grandmother passed away. Her yartzeit is quite close to Tisha B'av. Although I was very young at the time, I do remember her well.

2. A few years ago, I was at summer camp and a counselor for a different division died without warning the day before Tisha B'av. That night, when we read Aicha, it was with a kavana that I think probably most of us had never felt before. Though I never knew this counselor, and though many in the camp never knew him, we were all affected by the tragedy.

3. My teacher, Dr. Schwebel, who just passed away about two weeks ago. Even then I thought, wow, during the three weeks, too. There is something about tragedies during the three weeks and nine days. It is almost like God is recognizing that these people are extremely important, that they mean so much, and yet He takes them away, just as we, as a people, have lost so much throughout the centuries at this time of year.

These three people, these three tragedies, I will always think about on Tisha B'av. They make my Tisha B'av more meaningful and more personal. I wish, I truly do wish, I knew how to properly mourn the Beit Hamikdash. But, unfortunately, though I have an excellent imagination for stories, I cannot bring myself to feel the proper emotions for a Beit Hamikdash I never personally knew. It makes me sad that I am so removed from it and also guilty, in a way, because I am a Jew and I should be devastated that we lost the Beit Hamikdash, that we no longer have it today, that it has not yet been built. And perhaps I am devastated, in my own way, because I have never known it. Because there was a golden period of Jewish history that I missed, that I never experienced. But all that is too far removed for me. I really do try.

So I feel Tisha B'av in my own way, through tragedies that I really do feel, through sadness that I really did experience. I hope this is not wrong of me, but I don't think it is. I think, in a way, that is what we are supposed to do. Tisha B'av is a day of general sadness - a day where we mourn anything and everything we have lost. And if that means connecting more to events in this lifetime as opposed to events 2000 years ago, than I think that's okay. I think it's alright.

Everyone deals with days of sadness in their own way. This is how I deal with it. I think of people I have personally lost, or who people near to me have lost. The most recent tragedy, Dr. Schwebel, is, of course, on the forefront of my mind. I still cannot believe she is being mourned, instead of joining us in mourning on this day. It is truly a day of bitterness.

It's got to be a pretty boring life, hasn't it, being a hat?

This is not a spoiler post.

Dealth Hallows was amazing. But for right now, I'd not like to talk about it. I'd like to talk, instead, about Sorting.

Do you think that Sorting is part of the problem with the wizarding world...and with our world? Labels, names, isn't that all part of it? Judging people before you know them based on what House they're in, what ethnicity they're part of, what race? Based on blood? All that pureblood/mudblood nonsense - isn't that like racism? And doesn't that stem from, early on, being Sorted based on your abilities? Based on your heritage? Your personality? Your talents that you can't even help having or not having?

But then, it isn't. Because Harry was able to choose. He chose NOT to be in Slytherin. And it is that element of choice that sort of makes the Sorting not all that terrible. No one is forcing anyone anywhere. It is up to you to decide. Up to you to choose where your allegiance lies.

But still, it's a debate inside me.

So let's all play Sorting hat. It is your first day of Hogwarts. You are being Sorted. Where do you think you would be Sorted? Would you accept that or would you ask the Sorting hat to put you somewhere else, like Harry did? Where would you put yourself? Why?

If you're feeling really creative, you may also come up with your own Sorting song, but for now, we'll stick with this one:

Oh you may not think me pretty,
But don't judge on what you see,
I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There's nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you've a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You'll make your real friends,
Those cunning folks use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don't be afraid!
And don't get in a flap!
You're in safe hands (though I have none)
For I'm a Thinking Cap!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I am an eavesdropper.

I can't help this about myself. I'm naturally curious. If two people are having a conversation nearby and I can hear every word of it, unless it's something I feel uncomfortable hearing, I don't try to tune it out. I'm interested in other people's lives. Not boring stuff, obviously. But interesting stories. And I'm especially interested in hearing about other people talk about people I know. I guess I'm more interested in that than in random people's lives. It's people I know who I love hearing about. Like, there was one time in high school when I was sitting in the library and a group of girls nearby started talking about my brother. I listened to every word.

It isn't like I go out of my way to eavesdrop. It's just that I don't go out of my way not to. I know that doesn't make it any better, but if I wanted to rationalize it, I could always point out that if they're not being careful about where they're talking or how loudly they're speaking, it isn't my fault I overheard, right?

I know, I know, that's the wrong attitude. I should be more careful, more considerate, more thoughtful. It is one of my weaknesses. I am uncomfortable speaking lashon hara, but I am not as uncomfortable hearing it. I wish I was. I wish I had better self control about these things. I don't like to gossip. I think gossip is a revolting sport. But some part of me enjoys hearing other people gossip. Or not even gossip. Just talk. I like hearing people tell stories about themselves, about other people, things like that.

I don't know what I'm trying to do here - justify it, maybe. But, well, everyone's got some part of themselves they need to work on. This is mine.

Comfort can be found in the oddest places

It's strange, but I found the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows oddly comforting. This is not really a spoiler, unless you haven't read book 6, but in book 7 Harry thinks about his feelings over Dumbledore's death. This sort of had an impact on me after losing a teacher of my own who I was close with just two weeks ago. The fact that Harry felt so much grief and regret about a professor who he realized he actually knew very little about mirrors exactly what I am feeling now. All the questions that were never asked, the slight guilt that you feel so sad when you hardly even knew who the person really was in the end, when everything used to be about you, about what you are learning, about the issues that you have, but never about the teacher. That part of the book just made me feel better, maybe because it hit so close to home. It's strange where you can find comfort when you seek it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Privacy: the best policy?

I was thinking recently about the difference between keeping a public blog like this one and keeping a private diary. So many people keep blogs nowadays for the entire cyberspace to stumble upon and read, and there are plenty of pretty private posts out there. I know I've got a few, like the ones I wrote about Dr. Schwebel. So why didn't I just write them in a private diary? Why did I write them for the world to see?

Why does anyone write about their thoughts and feelings in public? Is it because of the hope for replies? Is it because we crave human connection? Because, honestly, although it is the internet, people reveal so much more about their inner selves in writing than they do in person. At least, sometimes. I find that I learn a lot about the way people think by reading what they write.

The draw towards keeping a private diary is, of course, that it is private. There's no need to censor yourself, no fear that someone is going to judge you based on something you write in anger or frustration or pure emotional overload. You can be completely honest with yourself.

But with a private diary, there is no hope for human connection. No one is learning anything about you and no one can offer you comfort, advice, kinship, nothing. So then - is a blog entry a cry for attention? And not in a bad way, but in a way that says, I need a friend right now, please know this about me. Of course, I don't mean non-personal entries. I'm talking about the deep ones, the philosophical ones, the emotional ones. It is like we are saying, please, this is bothering me, let's discuss it. Or, I am upset, please reassure me.

I think we write blog entries when we specifically want people to know what we think, how we are feeling - we are on purpose making them public. We need that human connection. We need to know we are not alone.

And yet sometimes -- sometimes it is better to keep things private. Sometimes certain thoughts and emotions should not be shared with the world. There is definitely a line about what you plaster across the internet, what you share with a few close friends, and what you share only with yourself. And if we find that line, if we find that balance, then that is a very healthy thing.

Gullible's Travels

Sometime tonight, my parents were discussing how I am gullible (I am, by the way. Very). In the course of the short conversation, my dad commented, "Isn't there a book called Gullible's Travels?"
My mom and I both laughed and corrected him.
"No, Abba, It's Gulliver's Travels."
But then I thought, hmm, Gullible's Travels would make a very funny parody of Gulliver's Travels and, come to think of it, Gulliver is rather gullible...
And that was when I remembered my English teacher from Survey of English Lit. II saying that Gulliver was supposed to sound like 'gullible.'
And then I just felt satisfied that everything seemed to be in order in the world.
Thank God for English classes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

An update or two

Just as a warning to all my fellow Harry Potter fans out there (or, at least, the ones who read this blog), apparently there was a book review in the NY Times about Harry Potter 7. I don't know how many spoilers were in there and I heard that, though there were a few, they were minor, but if you don't want to be spoiled at ALL, I recommend staying away from it. Or keeping it until after you've read the book.


In other news, I meant to post this a while ago but, due to all that's happened this week, never did. HOWEVER, this past Sunday it was visiting day in Camp Mesorah and...and...I DROVE ALL THE WAY THERE. FOUR WHOLE HOURS. YES.

[For anyone new to my blog, I am terrified of driving. See this post for details.]

I am still patting myself on the back.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

She Wears a Giant Tiara

She wears a giant tiara
Though it is not made of gold.
It is not made of silver, or copper, or glass.
Her tiara shimmers, shines, basks
In an unearthly glow, an aura, a nimbus
Which surrounds not just her tiara, but her very being.
For you see, her giant tiara
It is not quite a tiara at all
But a light - a golden light
Like sunlight, only sunnier
Like a laugh, only happier
And it envelopes her like a flame
Hugging her close, its diamond tendrils reaching out
And everyone they touch grows warm.
Everyone they touch becomes part of her,
The one with the tiara.

She wears a giant tiara
Because she is a giant-hearted queen.
She does not crown herself in her tiara
But rather her subjects, her students, her princesses do
For they love her - she is their teacher.
And they, the princesses, are her students.
And now the queen, she goes to rest, but she wants--
She wants to see her princesses grow
She wants to see her princesses transform
And have their own giant tiaras.
For when that day comes, her princesses will be queens, too
And they will have to touch others
Like her tiara touched them.
And she left them with a single spark -
One spark, one baby flame, that can flicker
That can become its own tiara.
One diamond, one emerald, one ruby, one gem.
They will all grow into their crowns.
And one day, one day, they will know what is it like
To be a queen. Maybe. Perhaps. She hopes.

And I hope - one day--
I hope to have my very own giant tiara.

[*"She wears a giant tiara" was a sentence Dr. Schwebel taught me in order to remember a certain aspect of Latin grammar. I thought of it suddenly today and crafted it into this poem. I'm not quite sure if the poem makes any sense, but I just needed to write it. One day, I will write a short story called "She wears a giant tiara" and it will probably (er, hopefully) make a lot more sense than this poem does. I apologize for the corniness of this poem, in any case.]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Death be not proud: an acknowledgment

I would just like to acknowledge all those out there who found this blog through googling Lana Schwebel. My reader count jumped from about twelve a day to something like forty-five. I can't believe how many people are googling my Latin and English professor. To know that there are so many out there touched and effected by what happened makes me feel like I'm not alone in this. I know there are so many people who are mourning. So I would just like to acknowledge all of you right now and say hello, and I hope you are all doing alright.

I would also like to draw your attention to a link on the side of this page, if you scroll down a bit. It is entitled "Dr. Lana Schwebel's Blue Blog." This is a blog created by a good friend of mine and another student of Dr. Schwebel's. It was created for you - for all of you upset, confused, or just touched in some way by Dr. Lana Schwebel, A"H. She was an incredible person and someone I cannot capture in words. You just had to know her. Those of you who did, you know what I mean. So if you'd like to, I encourage you to make your way over to that blog and either request to join and express yourself or just read what other people have to say. This is one way where we can keep Lana Schwebel's memory alive.

I would also like to share this poem, written by John Donne and taught to me by Dr. Schwebel earlier this year:

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Arma Virumque Cano

"Arma virumque cano" - "I sing of arms and the man," the first line of Virgil's The Aeneid.

This post is dedicated to my Latin teacher, Dr. Lana Schwebel, A"H.

Dear Dr. Schwebel,

How's tricks?

Two days ago, I met one of my friends in Penn Station - we had been on the same train but hadn't actually seen each other until we got to the city. You know how it is. Well, I of course said hello and we walked part way to where we had to go (we had to split up at sixth ave., so a short walk, but hey, a walk is a walk). Sometime during that walk, my friend said to me, "Oh, you're an English major, aren't you?"

"Yes," I replied, thinking she had perhaps heard about some literary contest or something - or maybe even that a literary journal was finally being started at Stern! Wouldn't that be just great?

"I got an email yesterday that a professor died...Sch...Schwebel?"



"Dr. Schwebel?"

"Yes. Did...did you have her?"

I was in a daze by that point.

"Yes," I said, feeling very distant from the conversation. Almost like I had a head cold. My brain was all fuzzy. "Yes, she...she's my Latin teacher. But I...you're sure? I never got anything."

"Yes, I got it in an SSTUD. It said it was a tragic death. How old was she?"

Faintly, "she was really young."

"Oh, yeah, tragic death, she must have had some kind of accident."


I think we joked about SSTUDs after that to lighten the mood. But I was shaking all over. I literally ran to my internship and, once there, hurriedly checked my email. Nothing. No SSTUD. I quickly emailed Chana and she said she never got an email either. I checked the YU website. Nothing.

That whole day, I checked my email about every five minutes. And I'm hardly exaggerating. I think, somewhere, in the way back recesses of my mind, I knew it was true. My friend wouldn't make it up. But yet there was no email. No proof. No one had told me for real. I even looked you up on google and found nothing to suggest anything horrible had happened. So I convinced myself it was a mistake. Some kind of horrible, terrible, sick mistake. But a mistake nonetheless.

The next day, I checked my email pretty frequently but not as frequently as the day before. I tried to imagine what I'd be feeling had I not met my friend in Penn Station. I'd never had heard about any of this. I'd have gone on thinking you were still...still there. We were going to continue reading Latin together in the fall. And I wanted to tell you all about working at a newspaper and about the giant printing press they have. I wanted to thank you again for your letter of recommendation - actually, an email is waiting for you saying just that. Only you'll never read it now. Or will you? Can you know what your emails say from in Shamayim? I wonder how much you can be aware of what's going on down here. Do you know what happens at the end of Harry Potter already? It's weird, out of all the things I could be thinking, my mind keeps going back to--"and she'll never know what happens at the end of Harry Potter. She was so close. So close."

Back to yesterday, I had pretty much convinced myself everything was one, big, huge mistake and that was the end of it.

But I knew it wasn't. I did. Like I said, somewhere in me, I knew it was true what my friend had said. How do I know I knew that? Because I kept checking my email, waiting to hear something. I knew I would.

This morning, I got an email with the subject, "Dr. Schwebel." I just stared at it in my inbox for a few moments, knowing what it would say and dreading it greatly. I felt a terrible, sinking feeling in my stomach. I was going dizzy. I moved the mouse, clicked, and opened the email.

And there it was.

You were gone.

Another one of your students was collecting anything any of us wanted to write about you to put together in a book and present to your parents.

I was in shock. In terrible, terrible shock. I just stared at the email before leaving my room, standing on the stairs, and crying. I burst into tears - just like that. I didn't think I would. I hate crying. I hold myself back from it all the time. I think I'm embarrassed by it. I don't like to come off as overly emotional. But no one was home. I was free to be upset, to cry, to repeat, "No, no, no" over and over.

It just didn't make any sense to me. And suddenly, I was overcome with this intense desire to know exactly what happened. I had to know. I emailed the girl who sent me her email and she forwarded to me the SSTUD that basically no one got. She also told me it had been a car crash. An article in The Yeshiva World filled in the rest.

Touring in Russia? In Siberia? All I could think about, reading that article, was how scared you must have been. I know I'd have been terrified. Not only is being in a terrible car crash frightening, but in Siberia? God. It gives me the shivers. I don't like to think about it. Let's move on to pleasanter things.

I want to continue studying Latin, even if we can't read together anymore. I don't know how, but I'm going to try to review everything we did and then maybe I'll buy a book that can teach me more. And a better book, because I know you really didn't like the one we used. And then, one day, I'll be able to get my own copy of Harry Potter in Latin. And read it, too. :D Of course, of course, along with Cicero, Ovid, Virgil, and all them other "dead dudes."

It will be very weird going back to school and having someone else in your office - that office you waited so long for. I remember that. =D

I'm still in a bit of denial, still in a huge daze about the whole thing. I don't really know how to handle it.

Thank you again for writing a letter of recommendation for me.

I'll try my best to keep up the dead language.

Your one and only Latin student,


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


This is a debate I got into recently with someone. I'd like to hear any and all answers. Yes! I'm letting you all loose to argue (respectfully)!

Do you think it's possible to have a fantasy genre today if it weren't for Tolkien? If yes, do you think it would be the same as it is now or drastically different?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Curse of the Contest

So a while ago ABE books was holding a Harry Potter poetry contest and you could win a bookshelf made out of Harry Potter books. So I wrote a poem and, of course, being myself, never sent it in. The deadline already passed but I figured I might as well post it here:

The Curse

With much brAVADo entered he who found
At Hollow’s plAce, a secret once unsaid
Until Rat spoKe betrayal good and sound
And thus ensurED his friends would soon be dead.
But once that dArk one sent them to the ground
He went to waVe his wand at Harry’s head
Thus quickly Realized he would not get far
Vanquished And leaving Harry just a scar.

So...anyone want to comment with Harry Potter poems of their own?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


It's funny. When I first decided to write this entry, I was going to write about J.K. Rowling and how, even if she isn't the best author there is out there, she still has incredible power to touch people and inspire them. I mean, there are countless stories of kids, especially boys, I think, who hated reading and then read Harry Potter and decided that reading wasn't so bad after all. And they didn't just stop there, they went on to read other books, too. I know there are so many people out there who are bitter about the fact that there are tons of much better fantasy authors who didn't get the recognition J.K. got. There are people who are annoyed that J.K. has taken ideas from other authors and stories without giving them credit. But at the same time, there was something about Harry Potter that kept it up high on the bestseller list. There was something about it that reached out to so many people and, somehow, all those other books did not. Not to this extreme, anyway.

What I'm trying to say is, I saw this movie on The Leaky Cauldron where J.K. Rowling was reading The Half-Blood Prince to a large crowd of kids. I felt this complete and utter awe at the fact that so many people were so, so excited about a book. We might be used to the Harry Potter world or we're sucked in to the worlds of whatever other books we read and may not realize how many people out there just don't read. To see so many people excited, not about a movie, not about a singer, but about a book -- was amazing. Truly amazing.

In one interview I watched, also on The Leaky Cauldron, J.K. Rowling mentioned that it is incredible to see so many fans holding books. Books. If there's one thing J.K. Rowling has given to this world, it is the love of reading. Not many other authors have done the same. And I think that's much more important than how original she is. She hasn't done outright plagiarism, she's just used ideas from books she probably read as a child. And, to be honest, most of her ideas that people accuse her of stealing, she actually took from mythology and much older stories which belong to everyone to use.

To turn this discussion around completely, I am in the middle of watching Matilda on TV and I noticed that Matilda and her family remind me an awful lot of Harry and the Dursleys. Harry is a boy living with his uncle, aunt, and obnoxious cousin, none of whom appreciate him for who he is and for the extraordinary gifts and talents he possesses. Matilda is much the same way. She lives with her father, mother, and obnoxious brother, none of whom appreciate her for who she is and for the extraordinary gifts and talents she possesses.

While living with the Dursleys, Harry discovers he actually has magical powers. Matilda discovers the same thing about herself. The Dursleys punish Harry when he does magic. The Wormwoods punish Matilda when she acts smart. Both families try to squash their gifted member out of their talents. Granted, the rest of the stories are completely different, but the similarities are there - enough to make me wonder if J.K. had Matilda in the back of her mind when creating the Dursleys.

Anyway, I have a feeling this post came off sort of rambly and a bit schizophrenic, but make of it what you will.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape

The subject line came from this movie:

Aaaaanyway, today was my first day as a newspaper intern! So now three days a week I'm working for a paper and two days a week I'm working for a medical publishing house. Busy girl, me! And I got an actual story to write for the paper! I have to call people and interview them and everything!

And on a totally different note, not only do I now hope Snape is innocent, I believe it, too. I found two solid proofs of his innocence in the sixth book. NO, THIS IS NOT A SPOILER. It is merely careful reading.

"Hagrid, why is Dumbledore angry with Snape?" Harry asked loudly.
"Shhh!" said Hagrid, looking both nervous and angry [.....] "Well--I just' heard Snape sayin' Dumbledore took too much fer granted an' maybe he--Snape--didn' wan' ter do it anymore--"
"Do what?"
"I dunno, Harry, it sounded like Snape was feelin' a bit overworked, tha's all--anyway, Dumbledore told him flat out he'd agreed ter do it an' that was all there was to it. Pretty firm with him." (pgs. 405-406 of the hardcover HBP)

"Kill me then," panted Harry, who felt no fear at all, but only rage and contempt. "Kill me like you killed him, you coward--"
"DON'T--" screamed Snape, and his face was suddenly demented, inhuman, as though he was in as much pain as the yelping, howling dog stuck in the burning house behind them-- "CALL ME COWARD!" (pg. 604 of the hardcover HBP)

Those two definitely prove it to me. Especially that last one. I mean, yelling is not Snape's style. He's more soft and quiet in his anger, preferring twisted comments and sneers to shouting and all. He was clearly, clearly extremely touchy about being called a coward, perhaps because he had just done one of the most difficult things in his life by killing Dumbledore, and perhaps because he has to play double agent and is sick and tired of it. Who knows for sure? But it's pretty clear proof to me, anyway.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Eight Things About Me

I was tagged by Chana so I figured I might as well :P

1. I still sleep with a stuffed animal that I've had since I wasunder a year old. It's a yellow dog (though not very yellow anymore, more, uh, dirty yellow) with large, floppy brown ears and a big black nose (but soft, not hard). It's name is Yellow Doggie, more fondly known as just Doggie. Incidentally, 'Doggie' was also my first word. =D

2. I had hepatitis when I was eleven and mono last summer.

3. I once lost my glasses in the Jordan River.

4. I am a clean freak, but not a neat freak.

5. I recently realized that I'm a very black and white thinker. That's why it's sometimes so difficult for me to understand politics in real life. In books, it's so often someone bad and someone good. In real life, however, everything is much more shaded in gray.

6. Although it's completely ridiculous, a very small part of me still hopes for something adventurous and fantasy-book-like to happen to me. You know, waking up one morning and realizing I have magic powers works wonderfully. I mean, there is the small problem of magic not being allowed by the Torah, but, er, we'd work something out...

7. I get nervous the day before a fast day, almost as though every meal I eat will be my last EVER.

8. Writing is my passion.

and, oh gosh, bonus number nine because I'd like to write this one, too: I love fantasy but I have never been able to get through Lord of the Rings.

Yes! Feels so good to admit that!

And I don't think I have eight people to tag so...I'll just tag everyone! You're all tagged!