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A Harry Potter prequel?!


Oh my god. Oh my god. This exists!!!

Apparently, J.K. Rowling wrote this a while ago for charity. How amazing is that? It’s only 4 pages, and it details an encounter young James and Sirius have with the police one night. Someone else joins the party at the very end. Read it here! And be excited!

 

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Hey, all you college students out there. Is this you?

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Some of you are out there right now going “WOOOO OMG NO MORE FINALS!!!111one!!!!111one” Others of you might not be. This post is for those people who aren’t. The rest of you, get out of my sight! (Haha no, not really. Congrats and live it up…lucky bitches.)

When you’re this close to the end of finals, the finish line is in sight, but so is another line: the deadline. The ultimate deadline. It’s no secret that I do not do well with those. You might even say I have a mild form of anxiety that only kicks in when I have one deadline for all manner of unrelated things that I can’t see the point of.

When you feel that panic attack coming on (actual panic, or is it the Red Bull?), it’s important to just take a step back and put things in perspective. Unfortunately, there’s too many people who don’t do so until after finals instead of before, and it’s a shame, because it actually helps you do better.

Put down the pen/calculator/flash cards. Tilt your head back away from the glare of the computer screen and close your eyes. Inhale. Breathe out. Keep doing this a couple of times (and tell that pesky brain of yours that it’s cliched for a reason). Breathe some more. Is that the sound of your own heartbeat in your ears? Can you feel the aches in your overstressed muscles now that you’ve remembered you do, in fact, have things like muscles and organs and joints? Do you know what such weirdness is called?

It’s called being alive.

Yes. Chances are that if you are still reading this, you are alive, and it is a small miracle. Especially in light of all the terrible tragedies that have happened just in this past year, I don’t think I need to tell you how lucky you are.

Do you also have friends and family who are alive and well? Are you able to earn your own money? Do you feel safe?

If your answers to these questions are “yes”, you are truly blessed. You may not think so right now, but you are.

There are a lot of people who won’t see it this way. Sure, this is great and all, but reveling in your own existence day after day isn’t going to get you anywhere in life. That’s cool. I totally agree. It takes certain life experiences to give these things so much meaning. I just think we forget too often that not getting that A or being accepted to that college isn’t going to take away any of the things you do have.

This is one semester. One semester out of four years – four years which, for most people, are just the beginning of their adult lives. It’s temporary. Don’t let it do anything that will stay with you permanently. Interpret that however you want.

So go finish that last project or fill out that last scantron, but be lighthearted. Contrary to popular belief, finding something to be happy about during finals week does not mean you will fail all your classes. It just means you are smart enough to realize that this one god-awful week does not overshadow all the good things you have in your life. Thinking about those and remembering your successes will give you so much more confidence as you step up to the challenge in front of you.

Good luck, and enjoy your holidays, everyone!


Is there a way to blame Microsoft for this?

I mean…damn you, AutoCorrect!

I mean…

Haha. Just kidding. Hey there!

I’m back on the grid, guys. At least for the next couple of weeks.

So obviously, that 6-day rule failed miserably. In my defense, let me tell you the story of how this blog came to be.

Lol no it won’t be that bad.

So basically, I started writing sometime in June or July after this loser for whom I still had feelings at the time got some girl pregnant and ended up marrying her. A couple of mutual friends decided to make me aware of this for reasons best known to themselves, and for one full weekend it put me in the vilest mood I’ve known in all of 2012.

By Monday I was sick of it, and I didn’t have classes or a job (or really anything) going on at the time, so I decided to start the Millennial Experience Project. I had no game plan and not a single clue about what would be on here. I just instinctively turned to writing like I always do, and finally took the plunge to make it publicly available because I wanted people to believe me when I said I was good at it.

Not long after, I got a part-time job at a beauty salon and supply store. It was not even slightly the right thing for me, but I took it, made some money, and it did help me fight off what could have been a really bad time. The job distracted me from everything else on weekends and during the day, and this blog when I couldn’t sleep at night (which was pretty much all the time).  I eventually got bored enough with that job that I started writing posts and formulating new ones for this blog while I was there, so truthfully, this is what I was doing for most of the summer.

Then I landed a research/editorial internship at a small but well-known and specialized newspaper, and that was even more awesome even though I learned that journalism isn’t quite right for me. School started up again around the same time, so between work during the day and classes at night, I was barely writing here anymore. When I did publish something, it was just a completed version of an earlier post that I hadn’t yet finished. It was unfortunate, because at that point I’d formed a solid idea of what this blog was going to be about, and had no end of things to say. But the pressure was mounting, and so I let it slide.

I was only there for about 7 weeks before I got contacted about a full-time position at a staffing agency. That industry really is where I want to be, so I interviewed and started the job that same week. I felt lukewarm about it from the beginning, but I didn’t realize until later that the main reason I wanted that particular position so badly is because it was down the street from where I used to live before I was forced to move. The position wasn’t great, but just being there again made me feel better. So much better, in fact, that I thought I didn’t need this blog anymore. I didn’t write or publish a single post the entire time I was there.

Finally (I’m almost done, I promise), three weeks ago, I got contacted yet again about a different technical sourcing position at a bigger company. I’m still there (believe it or not), still in 15 units at school, and still trying very, very hard to meet the academic and professional standards I’ve set for myself.

It’s not easy.

My brain has had so many things thrown at it over the last few months that I feel like it just stopped processing new stuff a couple of days ago. The combination of school obligations/due dates, training topics, and family stuff last week made it pretty much the shittiest week of college I can remember, and that’s when it suddenly became crystal clear to me how important it is to write. It’s literally like thinking to me.

So, in a nutshell, that’s why I’m back. Now you also know why I left, and that I’m never going to forget about this blog. It got me through a pretty rough time and sometimes I honestly can’t believe that there are people all over the world who read this thing. I didn’t actually expect any followers at all, and even if you don’t realize it, every “like” and comment I’ve gotten has helped me build up my confidence, little by little, to the highest level it’s ever been. I never would’ve even considered working full-time while still in school if I didn’t have that. Thank you.

So stick around, and bear with me…I still have no end of things to say.


Late last night…comparatively, that’s eons. It’s not a long book and I’ve finished the last few Harry Potters in less than 24 hours after I got them, but this one was a lot different. The thing where I wrote short posts while reading rather than one long review after is new, and I think it helped this time. I might keep doing that for future books.

My best advice to anyone who picks up this book is this: Try your darnedest to ignore that JK Rowling wrote it, and forget (as you’re reading and for a while after) that you ever knew anybody named Harry. There are definitely some recurring themes and parallels between the characters/places in The Casual Vacancy versus Harry Potter, so if you’re looking for the story of your favorite boy wizard within these pages, it’s not hard to find. But if you put this new story in the context of the series, you will almost certainly destroy every memory of Harry Potter that was once innocent and magical. There are things you actually see and experience with these characters that you only hear about in Potter, and while I’m sure putting them together would be a wonderful project for some Literature student somewhere, I’m not up for it. Certain connections just happened in my head before I realized it; I regret those already and I’m not keen on going farther down that road. 

Also, if you’re new to the adult fiction genre, pick up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or something similar and see if you can get through that first. I found The Casual Vacancy that level of intense. I feel like there’s very little I can say that can ring true for most readers, though. What you think about this book will be all about what’s “real” to you. For me, the majority of Pagford, the Fields, and what festers there was real, and that’s why I might find it more disturbingly chilling than someone else would. That’s less likely to be true for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because that story, while morbidly engaging and fascinating, is a bit more removed from the readers’ lives.

It’s Rowling’s ability to create a world that completely draws you in that does it…it’s a priceless gift I wish I had, but in this book, it’s almost sinister. Like I said, there’s not much I like about most of the characters. My growing dislike of Pagford – it reminds me of a place I’ve lived that I absolutely detested – made me want to slam down this novel and go read some Dr. Seuss instead, and the fact that I physically couldn’t shows that Jo’s writing here is as powerful as it ever was in Harry Potter. At the end of the book, I was so invested that I wanted a few of them (namely Fats, Simon Price, Obbo, and almost all the Mollisons) thrown off a cliff. They’re so damaging and destructive that they probably would’ve turned the sea below into liquid nitrogen.

Instead, the one who pays the price is the only one who is completely without rebuke. The way JK Rowling pulled off that ending is nothing short of poetic. I don’t think I can call her Jo anymore.

This is a brilliantly written book, but whatever humor is there is completely black. Nothing is sacred, no one carefree, no place an escape. She does an expert job at weaving them all together to make sure of that. The whole thing is so unrelentingly grey that I’d rather be back in Snape’s dungeon or in detention with Dolores Umbridge with the relief of an actual enemy to fight. At least they inspired some form of unity in resistance. There’s nothing unifying about Pagford; in fact, to me, it’s a picture of the banality of evil.

Pagford is not the safe haven that Hogwarts was. It’s a place I wouldn’t ever want to go back to, except I’ve already opened the damn Pandora’s box inside my head. I’m not sure what, if anything, is still left in it.

I know the thought of experiencing Rowling’s writing for the first time again is exciting, but trust me, don’t go there until you’re good and ready for it. Or you’ll end up making ignorant-ass comments like Kevin Nance’s comparison of Fats to Ron Weasley in his review for the Chicago Sun Times.

Ron is one of the most relatable and beloved HP characters, you snooty little condescending prick. He jumped in a frozen-over lake to save his best friend, while Fats gave his best friend a peanut inside a marshmallow knowing that Andrew was allergic. Fats is a sadistic, cowardly psychopath among the purest forms of evil in this book, and from your work, you sound like the type of person who would be nodding with an indulgent smile if you were to sit down and discuss his poisonous bullshit about authenticity over mimosas. If anything, Fats is Voldemort. Go back, reread, and in the future, stick to being an architecture critic.

It’s getting better…


Could it be? An actual glimmer of something resembling hope?

It’s not hope, exactly. More something along the lines of defiance. Mmm, that stuff is delicious with a side of rebellion and some superbly awkward dinner conversation drizzled on top.

I’m at page 220 now and for the life of me I don’t understand what Samantha’s deal is…is she just antagonistic for the sake of being so? Is there really anything deeper than disdain for Miles and a desire to live like she doesn’t have a husband and two kids on her mind? I don’t even know.

I’m relieved that Jo hasn’t put in anything too intense yet after what I was talking about in the previous post…although I have to admit that this book is already changing my idea of what “intense” is.


Okay not really but omg it just got unbearable.

Thanks a lot, Jo. I’ll never be able to unread that.

I understand why she would write something like this, of course. I know enough about what she’s said about her life to make sense of it. It’s just completely bewildering that there’s no conventional theme of love or goodness triumphing over evil. There’s no “good guy” at all. It’s just evil in degrees.

That character I mentioned who I liked the most earlier? She just became a racist. At page 149 the one I like best is Barry, the crooked politician who passed away.

God, I hope this ends well.

Actually, scratch that. I just hope it ends soon.


There is so little I like about any of the characters or their situations that I don’t even know if I want to finish it.

These people are awful. In so many different ways. The one who I think is least awful as of page 137 is a teenager who smokes like a chimney, is in near constant trouble at school for everything one might imagine, slapped her mother across the face, and has yet to express her liking for another person in any way other than by stealing things that belong to him/her.

The best part, though, is that this is the kind of book where the characters you hate and…well, hate the least, will change probably every time you read it. I love Jo’s ability to do that. Who says this book doesn’t have any magic in it?

Real talk…not even The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gave me this many doubts about finishing it, and that is a terrifying book to read. Especially at night. Alone.

…*Awkward face as I pick The Casual Vacancy up again*…

I revise my last post


If you are a kid, do not go out and buy The Casual Vacancy. It’s an adult book…at first when I heard that, I thought it meant in the sense that even Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and all the HP books that come after it could be considered adult, but no. This is legitimately an adult novel.

Now I’m kind of wondering how she managed to keep Harry Potter so comparatively hopeful and upbeat while this stuff was also inside her head.


I’m stoked. Stoked! I’ve only finished the first chapter (which is only a couple of pages) so far, but I already love it and know it’s going to be sort of a bittersweet experience for me.

The first character we meet is named Barry. He’s married to a woman named Mary. That alone feels like a smile and wave from a friend who I thought had forgotten all about me.

Go buy the book, kids. I’m off to enjoy my brand-new hardcover copy for which I paid the actual retail price – something I haven’t done since…oh yeah, Harry Potter. 🙂


That’s cheating, I know…but I couldn’t choose between them. It’s not meant as a diss to Imelda Staunton’s Umbridge or the written portrayal of Barty Crouch Jr. They’re both wonderfully despicable.

Look at that. David Tennant’s face could become a meme right there. He was amazing in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That’s a really important book in the series and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie kind of disappointed me, so when I went to watch the movie I was nervous about how well the story would be represented on screen. This was the period when directors were being switched around and things looked as unsteady as possible for a film series that has never changed the three main actors, but David Tennant did not disappoint. His whole story is morbidly fascinating, made only more so by his being one of the Death Eaters who tortured Neville’s parents into madness, and he conveys the qualities of his character perfectly on screen. It’s a fairly difficult task given how many little details from the book were left out.


On to Umbridge…to be frank, I think she was way scarier in the books than in the movies for some reason. She didn’t end up looking as unpleasant as I was hoping (although the abundance of pink did help her get there) and I was particularly upset that the teacher inspections and fights with McGonagall were either cut out or nowhere near as intense as I expected. From my perspective, those were a key part of her character because that’s how her evil was articulated in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Imelda Staunton didn’t really take risks with the character like David Tennant did (quick tidbit: the tongue thing was actually an improvisation on his part and not in the script…genius). I don’t mean to compare them as actors rather than characters, but when you’re talking about a beloved book that became an equally beloved movie, it’s hard not to. In the books, she gets under everyone’s skin and makes students and teachers alike hate her so much that she kind of becomes a unifying force among those who might not otherwise even speak to each other. The obvious example is the formation of Dumbledore’s Army, which teaches Harry such an important lesson (that he doesn’t have to do everything alone, even if he is the Chosen One) and is so incredibly important to his ultimate triumph. Not gonna lie, though, I kinda wish we’d gotten to see the bitch dying at the end of Deathly Hallows 2.

So, do you agree? Disagree? Have a different villain in mind entirely?

A/N: Yes, I am aware that September aka Harry Potter Month has ended. However, I did such a pathetic job of it that I feel like it’s physically impossible for me to call it quits yet. I have some awesome posts lined up for the grand finale, and I’m gonna get them out of my drafts queue. So I’ll extend HP Month to the end of October, but that’s it. I’ll probably still do some HP posts after that, but it’ll be back to business as usual for the most part.