Harry Potter and the Prisoner of His Story (Me)

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Sitting in the very depths of the darkest corner of my bedroom, at my humble desk cluttered with pens, pencils, miscellaneous papers, and Nutty Bar wrappers, with only a dim desk light that would flicker every time someone the floor above me would tromp around too heavily, at the age of 13, wearing a large sweatshirt and running pants, I wrapped myself up in a warm blanket and the beginning of an incredible adventure that I only had to turn the page to continue; This is where I first discovered the wonderful world of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter put a spell on me within the first chapter and I was captivated without a second thought of what I was getting myself into.

My process was simple: read the book, watch the movie, move on to the next book. I figured I could easily handle that process.

I was wrong.

Before I knew it, I was reading books faster than I could get the next one, and watching the movie didn’t help any because I was just reminded of the questions that the last book had left me. One night, I watched three Harry Potter movies in a row without once ever leaving my bedroom.

I still remember the exact moment I finished the  7th book.

I was in Wisconsin, vacationing with my family on our annual snowmobiling trip and it was New Year’s Eve. My dad and I had just finished watching Indiana Jones together. Although I would have rather been reading, I kept myself away from the book and out by the TV because I was in denial that the series was about to be over for me.

It was well past 2am when I finally went to bed, it was late, I was tired, I knew I could just go into my room, lay my head on the pillow, and fall right to sleep without reading a single word. Harry Potter would live if not but one more day for Bailey! For that I was sure.

I was wrong again.

Less than 5 minuets into tossing and turning in bed, I “accidentally” turned to my bedside table and grabbed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Some might have looked at my bookmark and figured I still had at least a few more days to finish it, but I knew better. I tried to tell myself “only one chapter” but who was I kidding, I knew that was NOT going to happen.

At 4:37 am on January 1st, 2013 I felt my world crumble as I closed the orange cover. It felt as though Harry Potter might be gone forever (I know, totally non-melodramatic, right?)

I was determined to prevail during my grief. I tried becoming interested in other book (didn’t work), I tried getting my friends to read the books (also didn’t work), I tried getting my sister to read the books (still, to this day, didn’t work), and then I had an epiphany:

Why don’t I just read them again?

* Poof, Mind=blown*

I read them myself, and then at night, I would read them to my brother. But let’s be honest, I wasn’t doing it to nurture my 8 year old brother, I was doing it for myself.

Although I have completed the books, Harry Potter is still very much alive for me, today only re-established that.

Seeing the Making of Harry Potter gave me a new outlet to review the series. I can now go back and watch all the movies and point out to everyone around me the special effects, the props, the behind the scenes action! (thanks Warner Bros Studio for entertaining me for at least another 19 hours and 39 minutes!)

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My  fascination with London started long before I ever opened the cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and I think that Harry Potter might even be a little more intriguing than other series simply because of its British aspects.

However, the world and I did not fall in love with Britain when we read Harry Potter, we fell in love with a story, a character, a plot, an author, a place, and a home. I think anyone reading the books, whether they have been stuck under their aunt and uncle’s staircase all their lives or not, can find a home at Hogwarts. Anyone can find their place there, anyone can come home to Hogwarts, and the best thing is, we don’t have to have out acceptance letter, we can be a part of Hogwarts by reading the books, watching the movies, touring the set, or going to an amusement park.

Having been through the tour of the making of Harry Potter, I feel even closer to Hogwarts than I ever have before. I can say that I boarded the Hogwarts Express, I walked across Hogwarts Bridge, I looked around Dumbledore’s office, and I drank Butterbeer. In the least, this has strengthened my parasocial relationship with the story to encourage me to re-read (again) the books, watch the movies, and fall even deeper into the world of Harry Potter.

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I don’t have the books with me, and because of that, I again feel the ebb of grieving on yet another New Year’s Eve. But I will get over it as I again try and persuade everyone to visit the Making of Harry Potter if they really want to experience the love and comfort of Hogwarts and all the making of Harry Potter.

My trip to London has been very successful so far, including to day which brought me home to Hogwarts, brought the magical world of Harry Potter to life, brought the real world a little bit of magic, and brought Ashely to tears.

Well done London, well done.

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Today’s Hilights

December 30, 2015

Since today was a really (and I mean REALLY) good day, I just thought I would share with you all the wonderful things that happened to Bailey today in London!

  1. “I saw a dog today.”
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Yes, I know it looks like a cotton ball from a distance, but those are dogs.
plot twist, they are actually sheep.
2. I ate at Nandos today
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It was delicious (basically like a British version of Chic-fil-a)
3. I showed off my crown in front of Victoria
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4. Ashely spoke to squirrelsIMG_1511
“They call her ‘Acorn'”
5. I tried to “Peter Pan” near Kensington Palace

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But I ended up just looking like this…
6. I took a picture of the London eye with pretty lights
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And because we went to the London Eye….
7. …we walked back to the tube station in the most sketchiest way.
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#creepybutawesomegrafititunnel
And 17,234 steps, 7.45 miles, and 26 flights later, Goodnight London.

V & Bailey & A

Having briefly visited the British Museum yesterday, I can’t exactly say what I expected to get out of the Victoria and Albert Museum today.

I may have woke up this morning with hopes for a busy corridor with tourist (like myself) cramming around one case, pushing and squirming to the front, right up against the glass just to realize there’s a glare when they try and take a picture. I may have woke up this morning with aspiration to see everything in the museum, even if that was entirely impossible. I may have even woke up with disappointment at the fact that today was a “museum day.”

I can honestly say that I don’t remember what I expected out of the V & A museum today when I woke up because whatever I was expecting didn’t happen. All I can remember is wishing I could have absorbed a little more of the museum.

As soon as we walked in through the tunnel entrance (which, aside from the incredibly long walk, was awesome), I headed straight for the Julia Margaret Cameron exhibit on the third floor.

I don’t know the entire process of developing a picture, (my mom just uses the Walmart photo center) so I didn’t expect to be able to fully grasp who Cameron was or her significance in British photography.

I read and heard before I went to the museum today that Cameron was a break-through in photography for the United Kingdom, but coming from America, where you can go to galleries from photographers all the time, from armatures to professionals, I didn’t really see the significance.

However, as I walked through the exhibit, I was transported back in time to 150 years ago when Cameron’s work first went on exhibit. The curators cleverly and successfully collected Cameron’s photographs and diaries to tell the story of her career.

Back in 1865, when Cameron’s work was first shown in the old V & A (The South Kensington Museum) photography wasn’t that big of a deal. And when it was, it was a big deal for its realistic characteristics. But Cameron challenged those trends. The significance of the curators at that time to exhibit her photos might not have seemed smart then, but because they did, anyone can now see what Cameron challenged herself with: altering the photo to make photography even more of an art.

In many of her more “professional” pictures, it is clear to see her immense talent, however she was not satisfied with that. In one picture, she scratches in something for the background, in another she purposefully makes the picture or part of the picture out of focus to draw attention to different aspects of the picture.

The saddest thing is that she was not appreciated at her time by the masses like a lot of American artists are for challenging the standards.

I didn’t just spend all my time at the Julia Margaret Cameron exhibit (although I probably could have), I also visited sculptures, a great hall with HUGE paintings (including the Retable of St. George, which I may have puzzled over for well over 20 minutes), and an entire display titled “Shoes.”

I would never have thought to make an entire exhibit about Indian Fabric and put it next to a Sculpture exhibit, or put a Jewelry exhibit right next to the National Art Library.

Overall, the V & A museum is unique with its arrangement and extraordinary with its exhibits. I was immediately drawn to the “Shoes” exhibit by my curiosity (and maybe even a little bit because I’m a girl). And that is truly what sets the V & A museum apart from others.

If you’re ever in London, be sure to stop by and say “hi” to Victoria and Albert.

 

Walkin’ and Rockin’

I have previously stated (or in other words: screamed, fan-girled, jumped with excitement, cried with awe-filled tears) my extreme love for British music, artist, and bands. But today might have trumped Christmas day when Spotify added the Beatles to their songs chart, as I was given the extreme privilege of re-living British music when we took our London Rock Walk today in Western London.

At the beginning of our tour starting at Tottenham Court, our tour guide Adam (although personally I think he looks more like a “Jim”) told us the tour we were about to embark on is not a tour of sights and places, but rather of people. He sure did stick to his word. We traveled down streets and around buildings made iconic by future, world-wide stars, where bands such as the The Who, The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones played, and where Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, and John Lennon all began.

Ever since the British Invasion, starting with the Beatles, citizens of America have been in love with British music. I personally believe that this is the biggest influence that British music has on American music: competition. One American boy band is always trying to be more drooled over than the competing British boy band.

As we walked down streets, and passed local cafes, “Jim” talked a lot about each of the big names that we now know, started out at coffee shops and small recording studios (including many we walked past). Each background started small, these musicians had to actually work for what they wanted and work to be heard, whereas today, all you need is an app and a social media account.

However, because of this competition between British and American musicians, I believe British music is keeping American music as original and authentic as music can be in the twenty-first century. The only difference is the coverage that the musicians get.

In a reading called “The British Invasion at 50: A byproduct of American music that changed the world” Chuck Yarborough mentions when the British Invasion began, the New York Times controlled what did and didn’t happen, “If it wasn’t in the Times, it didn’t really happen. Or worse, wasn’t worth noting.”

I think this is a big influence for British musicians to want and get involved in the States. American’s idolize musicians and celebrities to a sinful extent, where fame is easily achieved. However, there were hardly even plaques outside the shops we visited today, and most shops were no longer what they were 50 years ago when these bands were around. Whereas in America, we’ve preserved Graceland.

Most fascinating to me, was the amount of rejection each world-wide known musician was given before they decided to stop listening and just do it. My particular favorite is when “Jim” told us that Elton John was told that his fingers were too fat and he would never be a good piano player.  Maybe Elton John would still grow up to be famous, but can you imagine him without the piano?

Speaking of “imagine,” I love John Lennon. (That’s all really, just wanted to add that).

If I were to “walk the Rock” again, the only thing I would do differently is have my headphones in and listen to the musicians that I can picture walking down the same streets, just 50 years earlier. There are three songs I would be sure to include in my playlist.

The first is “London, Bye, Ta Ta” by David Bowie. This might seem like an odd choice, but this song helps me to relate to these artists. In the song Bowie says “London bye ta-ta, Strange young town, London bye ta-ta, brought me down.” Although I do not agree with saying goodbye to London, I have also not been rejected (or told my fingers are too fat).

The second is “Come Together” by the Beatles. Although this is one of my all time favorite songs, I choose this one because one single band cannot perform its own invasion. A lot of British musicians had to “come together” to invade America. And I am sure glad they did!

My third is “Viva la Vida” by Colplay. This title literally means “Live life” in Spanish, and it perfectly sums up what these incredible artists were trying to do. Fame did come with it, however they all were doing what the love and living the life they wanted to live. Although this song talks about once being high up and now being low, it still has a positive beat and uplifting message to go and live your life. All of these musicians have had their highs and their lows, but they continue to strive for what they love.

Needless to say, today brought me near to the British Rock-and-Roll history (but even nearer to tears).

You really out-did yourself today, London. Let’s see if you can top this one tomorrow!

 

London: through Bailey’s eyes

I’m still a slightly in shock at the mere fact that I am in London, England.

Not only have I been preparing for this trip since September, London has subconsciously always been in my life. Two life-altering events could be the very cause of this.

The first is through music. At home, my dad always had classic rock blaring through the stereo speakers. Phil Collins, The Rolling Stones, and many other British bands could be heard 24/7, and if you were upstairs, you could even feel the music shaking the floorboards from the speakers below.

When I grew into my own personality, I still listened to classic rock, but I was more selective, listening primarily to British bands and artists. Sam Smith is my back-up singer on my 5-hour drives to an from Murray, the Beatles dominate my vinyl collection, Colplay overcomes any other band on my playlist, and George Ezera and Ed Sheeran battle for my Spotify music.

The second and biggest influence that British media had on my childhood is the beloved Peter Pan.

Ever since I fell in love with the fictional boy who could fly to my window at night and listen to my stories, I have wanted to live in London and be Wendy Darling. I dreamed of Big Ben and flying towards the second star to the right and straight on until morning in my nightgown.

Today, I was actually able to see Big Ben up close and in person. I really thought seeing Big Ben would be the highlight of the bus tour today, however, my heart did not quicken when I saw the giant clock like it did as we passed Diagon Alley.

Being in London gives me a leg up on all other Harry Potter fans. It might be incredibly nerdy for me to admit this, but now if I ever get into a Harry Potter argument and lose, I can always trump the argument by simply declaring that I have actually been to London (the only problem would be if they too had been to London).

I’ve loved Harry Potter since I first began reading the books in 7th grade, however actually being in this city, walking the roads that Harry walked and Peter flew over, I fall in love all over again with a place that seems so much bigger than just a setting for a book or a place where people travel to. London seems alive with all the mysteries Sherlock has solved. London seems alive with all the places that characters have visited. But most of all, London seems alive with all the untold stories and the not-thought-of characters that some day, another author will create, and suddenly, I have another reason to come back and visit again.

To think that this is only my first full day in London leaves me with incredible excitement for what is to come. I look forward to walking where Death Eaters roamed, visiting where Shakespeare lived, and eating iconic British foods with ridiculous names (Hobnobs specifically).

Thanks for making my childhood dream come true London. See you tomorrow!

In the past 24 hours

In the past twenty-four hours, I have ventured away from my little home of Athens, population 3000, and arrived in London, England, population 8.5 million.
In the past twenty-four hours, I have traveled by car, plane and bus, six hours into the future.

In the past twenty-four hours, I’ve eating plenty of Mike & Ike’s and sweetish fish to satisfy a day. I’ve had Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza, and airplane ravioli.

In the past twenty-four hours, I have endured over two hours of airport terminal awkwardness surrounded by people who either didn’t speak the same language as I, or did but didn’t care to speak and an airplane seemingly full of screaming children.

In the past twenty-four hours, I have encountered hugs with reunited friends, handshakes with companions, and smiles with strangers. I’ve encountered a confused hotel manager, misunderstood directions, a congested interstate and an even more congested airport. I have encountered cities, and life, and different cultures, all accompanied with a slowly waking dream.
These past twenty-four hours has taught me many things (including to unload a computer from a carry-on) and within just a short amount of time that this day has allowed me, I have experienced more excitement, anticipation, and juilation than I thought I ever could in a mere twenty-four hours.

I look forward to what the next twenty-four hours could hold, and all the twenty-four hours after that.

So, London, you tell me: What do you have in store for the next twenty-four?

Anticipation

“Which is a mortar to desire the ability to imagine it as if it’s happening, to experience it as if it’s happening while nothing is happening and everything is happening at the same time.”

-Esther Perel

I could not have said it better myself. The LORD (and anyone within hearing distance) knows just how much I have anticipated this life-long dream of traveling to London and being face to face with a brand new adventure.

These past few months of anticipation has only helped my curiosity and gratitude grow. I thank my University for giving a mere freshman this unique opportunity, my professors for helping me along the way, my parents for supporting me (both in an emotional and financial way), and most importantly, CCSA for making this all possible in the first place.

My curiosity and excitement has grown tenfold. It feels as though just yesterday I was talking to my RA about Harry Potter and now, I sit her at my computer, trying to contain myself (unsuccessfully), with only a week keeping me from my dream, an adventure, and life-long memories just out of reach in the very near future.

See you next time in London!