goodbye, potter

last night, i saw the final film of the HARRY POTTER series. it marks the end of an era, not just for Rowling and the actors and everyone else involved in the making of the movies, but for the audience — the viewers and readers. as Jo Rowling herself said at the british premiere of HP 7.2, “no story lives unless someone wants to listen, so thank you to you all.”

the beauty and magic of a book or a poem or a movie or a song is that once the artist has created it and releases it into the world, it becomes ours as we read/listen/watch it with glasses colored by our own life experiences.

these books by Rowling have definitely become my own. (you too?) i discovered these books the summer i was 19 and sister E was 8. (she was quite the advanced reader.) i have this vivid memory of sneaking into her room to pull them off her shelves while she wasn’t looking. i read and read and read, but i never remembered turning the pages or seeing the sunshine move across the sky or doing anything but gallivanting across hogwarts with harry, ron, and hermione. my mom would call me for dinner and i’d look up from the pages and blink, confused, because i was in my room in NJ and not somewhere in england. after i finished the first three books, i was devastated because i wanted more magic and i wanted it now, but unfortunately, i had to wait.

and while i waited for the next books to be published a funny thing happened. the books broke down barriers — of the imagination, but more importantly, of genres. they made it acceptable for adults to read YA. this was a BIG moment for me because i’ve always enjoyed reading YA books more than the age appropriate books i “should” be reading. with their freshness and humor and awkwardness and pain and plot and voice and figuring out how they fit into the world surrounding them and figuring out their own powers…i understand YA books. growing up is hard, but it’s something i remember acutely because, heck, i’m still experiencing and doing and feeling it even now despite the fact i should be done with all that. Jo gave us the go ahead to read YA and with that, i was finally able to embrace it wholeheartedly. i admited to myself (and thus the world) that this was my genre. Jo made it cool, and for that, i thank her. (not that i wouldn’t have embraced YA without her help, but maybe not as publicly…)

but back to my original point. with the release of the final movie, it seems like we’ve finally reached the end, but WAIT, not so because the stories live on in us, her audience, whether we are re-reading the books, re-watching the movies, or sharing the books with kids who are now old enough to read them (hello, niece M!). these stories (and all stories for that matter) continue to live and breathe and cast their spells on us muggles.

is there anyone who’s had that type of influence on YOU? a teacher? actor? director? author? mentor? coach? who gave you the courage to embrace your truest self?

p.s. since we’re talking all things Rowling, have you heard or read the transcript of her commencement speech at harvard’s 2008 graduation? i was there (as a guest, not as a graduate. i wish!) and as usual, Jo’s words have a way of leaving the rest of us speechless.


come away with me OR life as a hollywood extra

my first job in boston was working for a catering company and despite the long, grueling hours, it was a great way to get to know a city you’ve just moved to. my next job after that, my first official publishing job, is where i met nancy. nancy is a doer, a planner, a let’s go explore type of gal. i like to think i’m those things — and i can be if needed — but i’d much more comfortable being the tag along kind of girl. the one who just has to say yes. and when nancy is the one doing the asking, it’s very easy to get caught up in her infectious love of the city.

this past saturday, i did something i’ve always wanted to do. i got to be an extra in a movie. a hollywood movie. ever since massachusetts passed a law giving out tax breaks to movies that shoot locally, you can barely turn a corner without running into some set. but i’ve always been the outsider. not saturday night.

the movie is TED starting mark wahlberg and mila kulnis and is directed by seth macfarlane (creator, writer, actor of FAMILY GUY). they needed 2500 extras to film a concert scene with a “grammy winning artist” and they needed the extras to be there from 7pm to 3am. despite the crazy hours, nance was game and so was i.

and, well, since it’s hollywood, i’ll just roll the camera. (uh, it was my cell phone camera, so pardon the shoddiness of the shots. i’m no movie director.)

we arrived at 6:30 (call time was 7pm), signed in, got our raffle ticket/set pass, and settled in behind the caution tape. everyone was casually spread out on blankets and chairs. the low humidity and temperatures of mid 70s put everyone in a grand, hollywood type of mood.

as night fell, the lights went up and i realized exactly why actors look so good all the time. they have lights like this following them around. *note to self, buy one of these and hire someone to carry it around.*

the grammy winning artist? miss norah jones. she’s the teeny one in the green dress with her arm out.

the movie cameras were all on these massive contraptions. (the crane starts at the bottom left of the picture and rises upwards.) roll sound, roll camera, ACTION.

and here are the stand-ins. norah jones’ stand in is right as the blue meets the brown background and dominic, mark wahlberg’s stand-in is one next (ish) to her. and the third guy is the director of photography. ever seen LOVE ACTUALLY? yup, those kind of stand-ins. wait, no, not THOSE kind of stand-ins, but yes, they have people who are of similar look, size, and shape stand on stage while the set crews adjust the lighting and camera angles and whatnot. they are up there for hours, and then the actors arrive and are there for mere minutes. i can see why stand-ins are needed. they help keep the budget semi under control.

and now, mark wahlberg has entered the building. he was HILARIOUS. in this scene, norah says her line “i’m going to rest my chops for a minute, so i’m going to invite up a friend of mine who’s here to sing a song for a special lady in the audience. (or something like that.) and then she has to introduce mark wahlberg’s character, john bennett. except, the first time she said his name, she said, “here’s mark.” and after a brief moment of embarrassed silence, we all burst out laughing. after going through the line again and saying the correct name, mark comes up and says, “thanks, alicia keys.”

after the novelty of the evening began to wear as thin as the hour on the clock, i realized something. maybe it was the surge of sugar from the mountain dew i chugged at midnight or maybe it was the bright lights setting the scene, but there i was right in the middle of the action. so much in the middle of it that i will not be visible at any part during the movie, but that’s not the point. the point is I WAS THERE. i wasn’t on the sidelines anymore.  i was living a (mini) dream because of nancy. that’s the kind of friend she is.

i can’t wait to see what our next adventure entails.

i’ve got my “yes” all prepared.


offline weekend

this past holiday weekend included:

*two road trips (one to NJ and one to philly)

*a wedding

*a carousel, seriously!


*family time that included way extended members of the family, some of whom might have said it was “good to see [me] in adult form” and all of whom i wish i saw on a more frequent basis.

*self portraits

*freshly squeezed lemonade

*secrets and surprises unleashed, one of which is this: brother G isn’t scared of fireworks anymore AND he has his own to set off. he was traumatized by the noise after seeing them at a young age. the fact that he’s now setting off his own has, pardon the pun, blown my mind.

*free reign at the Please Touch Museum.

*more family time

*shaky steps (by baby mac)

*bubbles (of the champagne and soapy varieties)

*a walk in the rain

*home cooked meals

*general goofiness

*starting and finishing BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by ruta sepetys

*starting ON WRITING by steven king

*listening to THE GRACELING by kristin cashore

it’s amazing, how in a world so technologically advanced, i managed to spend the vast majority of my weekend offline. and you know what? all that time unplugged allowed me to recharge. bring it on, summer.

p.s. happy birthday, america! you’re looking fabulous!



if you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

me? i’d tell younger me to start wearing heels because she’s not getting any taller.

i’d tell her to pay more attention in math class. she will need to know how to add and subtract in real life.

i’d tell her that she actually likes brownies baked from a box better than from scratch. (sorry mom, i’m sticking with betty crocker.)

i’d tell her to learn to read a map. and i’d tell her it’s okay to get lost because she does (and always will), but it’s those detours where her character is built. and i’d tell her she should always go in the direction opposite of what she thinks she should do. it’s the only way she’ll ever get to her end destination.

i’d tell her she wins an olympic gold medal (and see what sport she focuses on) because maybe that dream could still be cultivated.

i’d tell her to keep up the thank you notes because there’s nothing quite as lovely as receiving a handwritten note.

i’d tell her to ease up on the worrying and self doubting.

i’d tell her to take her parents’ advice more often. they actually do know what they’re talking about.

i’d tell her that when things go wrong, THAT’S when you learn.

but i’d only say those things in the barest of whispers because the information really sticks when she learns it for herself.