Also, Casey- I'm going to guess memory number 2. And I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts on the Biebs' new 'do. I'm also curious how it's going with the whole possible government shut-down? You mentioned earlier that it was less than desirable for you and I was wondering how things are going with that. I hope everything's going well!
Carlyn- Sorry we're all secretly evil masterminds. I can't pretend I'm too sorry though, I'm looking forward to seeing your wonderful, sparkly story. :D
Alexandra- Yikes, $600. Why did you have to pay so much to have a maid of honor? I'm interested to hear more about your wedding preparations! While I'm nowhere near ready to get married myself, it's interesting to hear about your experiences! Are you getting nervous?
Cassie- Good luck with the play and all the rehearsals! I don't have nearly as much experience with theatre as you (goes without saying), but I was in the pit orchestra for a few of the musicals in high school and those were some of the best memories I have from high school. I'm sure your students will look back on this and be really thankful for all your hard work. :)
Okay, onto Harry Potter! As I briefly mentioned last week, I initially turned my nose up at Harry Potter and thought it was a stupid fad that would pass. I didn't read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone until seventh grade, about a month before the first movie came out. I remember watching tv and a commercial for the movie came on. My mom asked me if I wanted to see it and I replied something to the effect of, "Psh, no, it's a stupid fad." I now shake my head at young Christina. So how did I end up reading it? In my seventh grade English class we had a period of time in which we had to silently read a book for pleasure, about 20 minutes or so. One day I had forgotten to bring a book. There was a bookshelf in the classroom for people who had forgotten a book, so I went over to find a book and found SS and thought, "Oh, what the hell." (To be more accurate, in seventh grade I probably would have thought "Oh, what the heck.") So I got through the first chapter or so in class and was kind of feeling it, but wasn't hooked. I kept reading when I got home that day and by the end of the night I was obsessed. I still have the little notebook in which I wrote down a list of Hogwarts school supplies that first fortuitous night.
Fast forward to now, I've had so many wonderful memories in this fandom, I love it so, so much. I started out writing some terrible fanfiction and being very active in the forums (especially HPANA). I was big into theorizing about what would happen in OotP (and then HBP and DH). A little anecdote I like to tell, I actually read a post by someone in the early days who said that they thought Voldemort had hidden part of his soul in Nagini and that always stuck with me right up until the end when, what??! It turned out to be true? It's funny to think that a piece of me knew (part of) the answer that whole time. So, let's see: fanfiction, forums, and theorizing. Oh, and how could I forget: HP role play. An online friend and I had a Hogwarts role play chat in which she was headmistress, I was deputy headmistress, and we would also teach classes. Good times... And then, junior year of high school, I found wizard rock! My friends and I went to our first Harry & The Potters show (for my birthday, and they sang me happy birthday!) and we've gone to quite a few more shows since then. In addition to HatP we've seen Draco and the Malfoys a few times when they toured with HatP and then we also saw The Remus Lupins and a live MuggleCast show when they did their tour in the summer of 2007 right after the DH release. (A fun sidenote, I just started watching Alex Carpenter on youtube and then realized that I have a picture with him from that tour. Takes on new significance now!) We also had the privilege of meeting Melissa Anelli at one of the HatP shows, so we like to joke that we're two degrees away from Jo now. One of the best memories, second only to the DH midnight book release, was going to the Wizarding World for its grand opening and seeing (most of) the cast. Just. Amazing. I recently starting putting together an album of pictures from my friends' and my best Harry Potter memories, so all these moments are especially fresh in my mind.
Okay, now for my thoughts on the books! I've never really had a favorite character. Well, actually I guess when I was younger Hermione was my favorite character because I practically was Hermione and really identified with her. A real bushy-haired, annoying know-it-all who had to be perfect. Now, however, I wouldn't say I have a favorite. Lately, though, I have really loved Lupin. I reread the series before DH Part 1 came out and after rereading PoA, I have a newfound respect for Lupin. He is just amazing. First of all, he was a great teacher and role model for Harry. But he's not without his weaknesses, as we saw in DH when he tries to run off with the trio and shirk his duties as a soon-to-be dad. I really wish we would have got to see more of Lupin and his struggles. But alas, we only see what Harry sees. Something I loved from the movies is that Dan had Harry emulate Lupin when he led Dumbledore's Army. It was his idea to have Harry wear the open cardigan and tie, just as Lupin dressed in PoA. Oh, Dan, you're made of awesome. Along with many others I also LOVE Neville. I've actually slightly seriously considered naming my (possible) future son Neville. I don't think I need to go into why I love Neville, especially because you guys have already touched on it and you already know how sweet Neville is.
Favorite book? Pre-OotP, it used to be GoF, in large part due to the extreme use it got during OotP theorizing. What did that gleam of triumph mean?? Second to GoF was CoS. And well, after OotP came out, it was still between GoF and CoS. I have to admit, I was one of those people who wasn't all that fond of OotP. No, no, I did love it, but it wasn't my favorite. And Harry was such an ANNOYING TEENAGER (sorry, just went a little OotP-era Harry there myself). But seriously guys, SO MUCH YELLING. After rereading OotP a few times though, I do like it a lot more than I initially did. Once HBP came out it was my favorite book. I know not everyone loved it, but I most definitely did. Some people didn't like how much it was focused on hormones, teen romance, and all that silly stuff. I liked that though, I thought it felt very real and relatable (due in no small part to the fact that I was 16 at the time like the trio and deep in the throes of teenage hormones). And yes, I like Harry/Ginny, and Ginny as the great character she is (suck it, haters!). And once we got DH, surely enough, that became my favorite and it still is. Not only was the story itself just fantastic, but Jo's writing also improved throughout the series and it's really evident in DH.
I'll third the motion of "Yay, foreign Harry Potter books!" Personally, I have the French copies of SS and HBP. Or should I say, Harry Potter à l'Ecole des Sorciers and Harry Potter et les Reliques de la Mort.
Lastly, I want to leave you guys with a quote that, for some reason or another, has always stuck in my head since I read it in seventh grade. From CoS: "He missed Hogwarts so much it was like having a constant stomach ache." I expect this is how I'll feel come July 15th.