Friday, July 23, 2010

lately i've been FINDING that i need to clear something up...

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or its characters (property of J.K. Rowling), "A Very Potter Musical" or its quotes, or any of the images in this blog post, which were taken from

I've been M.I.A. on my blog recently, because I decided I'd rather read/cross-stitch/play video games/hang out with parents/and friends than spend lots of time on the Internet this summer. Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I thought I'd pop in for a hello, today!

Recently I've come to realize that I'm a Disney fangirl during the school year, but a Potterhead during the summer. Don't ask me why. *shrug* I do not know why this is, but it's true.

And lately, I'm FINDING that many hold misconceptions/misunderstandings about Hufflepuff House. You know, when I was about 11, I took the official Sorting Hat quiz on the WB website, and I manipulated every answer so that I'd get Gryffindor. You probably did that too at some point, don't lie, because it was so cool to be in the same House as our favorite trio. But then I realized, as I started to grow up, that I'm just not a Gryffindor. I'm not particularly brave, that's just the way it is. For a while I considered myself a Ravenclaw - Slytherin was definitely out of the question - until I read the 7th books, where Luna and McGonagall answer the Ravenclaw common room's questions to gain entrance. I couldn't for the life of me figure out the answers.

I took some more Sorting Hat quizzes out of sheer boredom, and I kept getting Hufflepuff. I kinda panicked, knowing their reputation for being "duffers" (thaaanks for that, Hagrid). But then I started to see the awesomespiceness in the House of Badgers, and started to realize that having Puff pride was just another way of expressing myself. So lemme clear some things up.

There's this general misconception that Hufflepuff is somehow the least important House at Hogwarts, because as the rhyme goes,

"Said Hufflepuff, 'I'll take the lot, and treat them all the same.'"

I guess some people think this means, Helga took the kids who weren't brave, smart, or ambitious. Actually, we are given examples of brave and/or smart and/or ambitious Hufflepuffs throughout the series (Sprout, Diggory, Tonks, Bones, Abbot, McMillan, Finch-Fletchley), just as we are given examples of Gryffindors who are not brave (Pettigrew), Ravenclaws who aren't as bright as we'd expect (Chang), and Slytherins who are not ambitious (Goyle) or evil (Snape).

What Helga actually meant, was that every magical child should be given the opportunity to hone their magic skills and learn; every person has value inside them; anyone can achieve anything they put their mind to if they just work hard enough; and loyalty is one of the most important traits in a person. JKR emphasizes throughout the series that a person's choices matter more than their abilities, and has suggested that a student has some control over which House they will be Sorted into; I don't think that Hufflepuff students lack guts or brains, but simply value friendship and fair play more (or maybe they possess all these qualities in equal measure, as opposed to one trait overpowering the rest). I think Hufflepuff students accept that they're considered to be misfits by the rest of the school, but don't really care, which is what sets them apart.

Some of my Puff friends on the Leaky Cauldron have suggested that Hufflepuffs tend to be a bit more moral than the other Houses, since Gryffindors, as much as we love them, can be prone to arrogance/pride; Ravenclaws tend to think anyone who doesn't score 10 O.W.L.s are worthless; and Slytherins are just little stinkers. Hufflepuffs seem very cheery and unwilling to lie or cheat anyone for any reason, and don't tend to show off or brag. They are most willing to give others a chance, like when the Fat Friar wanted to let Peeves attend the Triwizard feast in year 4. They believe everyone should be treated with equality and tolerance.

I'm not saying the House of Badgers is perfect. They definitely showed their nasty sides when they thought Harry was the heir of Slytherin in year 2, and when they were, um, overzealous in their support of Cedric in year 4 - so much so that they stooped to those unattractive "Potter Stinks" buttons. Quite unHufflepuffly, I think. So yeah, they're human. Also, where in the Sorting Hat song does it say we're NICE? We can be just as sarcastic as any Slytherin, thanks very much (for further proof of that, spend 2 hours with yours truly).

Anyway, my point is, outside of the Gryffindors, the Hufflepuffs seemed - for the most part - the most willing to support Harry throughout the series. Many members of Dumbledore's Army were Puffs. I quote from book 7:

"Then a figure rose from the Slytherin table and he recognized Pansy Parkinson as she raised a shaking arm and screamed, 'But he's there! Potter's there! Someone grab him!'

Before Harry could speak, there was a massive movement. The Gryffindors in front of him has risen and stood facing, not Harry, but the Slytherins. Then the Hufflepuffs stood, and almost at the same moment, the Ravenclaws, all of them with their backs to Harry, all of them looking toward Pansy instead, and Harry, awestruck and overwhelmed, saw wands emerging everywhere, pulled from beneath cloaks and from under sleeves'" (DH 610).

The Hufflepuffs stood up a split second before the Ravenclaws. They were the fiercest and most loyal after Harry's own House.

Oh, and those little comments about HufflePUFF being the pothead House, because of our connection to the greenhouses? Not even close. Just because people are laid-back doesn't mean they're druggies, lamespice people.

(If that ^ didn't make you laugh, or you didn't get it, you need to click here. And keep watching.)

Our Head of House is Professor Sprout, a good-natured but sensible witch with a gifted green thumb. She awards points generously in her classes, rather than focusing on her own House, and she even tells Moody (well, Crouch, but whatever) that Neville has a gift for Herbology in year 4. She's pretty darn awesome.

The Hufflepuff Ghost is the Fat Friar, who's known for his always-positive demeanor.

JKR did an interview with some really cool people on the Leaky Cauldron a while back, and she commented on the Puffs' common room:

"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."

Woot! My room used to be yellow. And my iPod case is yellow. Yellow is an awesomely awesome color. And dude. Duuuude. Our common room is by the kitchens! Excellent!

If you want further proof of Hufflepuff's awesomeness, consider this: our mascot is a badger. Badgers can eat snakes, do just as much damage as a lion, and defend themselves against birds of prey (like say, eagles?). Badgers are awesome little critters.

So yeah. If you identify with the phrase, "You might belong in Hufflepuff, where they are just and loyal; those patient Hufflepuffs are true, and unafraid of toil" then 50 POINTS TO YOU.

If you still don't get it, that's cool. We don't need your pity, and we're above your scorn and petty comments. (I'm talking to you, Malfoys of the world.) We're just happy to be Puffs. But in the end, "we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided" (GoF).

Finally, I leave you with this:

I know I already said it, but isn't it great? Holla! Hey, Harry Potter, maybe if you were a Hufflepuff you'd have found those Horcruxes faster, eh?

Peace, love, pixie dust, & Puff pride,


Thursday, June 24, 2010


10 years ago, I was getting ready to hit double digits. I was beyond excited, and maybe a little scared.

Now, I'm about to hit double decades. That sounds so dang old to me. I mean, you're reading a blog that's called "Searching for my Neverland." Most people who know me, know that I have a bit of a Peter Pan complex. So since I'll be out of my teens in less than two hours, I'll be honest: I'm freaked out.

In magazines, there are warnings to use anti-wrinkle cream beginning in your 20s. Excuse moi? I have acne, and I'm going to start worrying about wrinkles soon, too? Awesome. Even my beloved Alice from Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" was told by her older sister that she should marry some guy she doesn't like, "Because you'll be twenty soon, and that pretty face won't last forever."

Thanks for that, sis.

The other day, my boss said, "So, turning 20 next week? Cool! That's half of forty!"


On the other hand, this dude's pretty wise. And I think he was around 150 when he died, or something. The stuff that Dumbledore says generally ends up being the best quotes in the whole Harry Potter series. So I guess getting old's not so bad, if you get to be cool like Dumbledore. Hopefully someday I'll be that wise (even if I don't make it to 150).

But for now, I'm just going to enjoy the rest of my youth. Even if I'm no longer a teenager, I'm by no means sprouting gray hairs - yet. I was extraordinarily blessed in my teen years, because I'm one of the few people I know who is sad that it's over. That's a good thing, because it means I had fun. With any luck, the journey through my 20s will be even better.

Thanks for reading this post! Now go find my parents and congratulate them on making it past my teen years in one piece (er, make that two pieces). As for me, I'll be where I was nearly a decade ago...celebrating my own birthday on the sofa with a nice Harry Potter book.

Prayers & pixie dust,


Friday, May 28, 2010

susie's recently updated bookshelf!

So I realize everyone's waiting on a trip report from the fabulous Disneyland Resort, but I'd like to get this post out of my system first. See, it's summer, which is a joyous time for many reasons, but especially for English majors it means that we can read whatever we want, and not whatever our professors are thrusting down our throats.

I like going back to reread my favorites every summer (cough, the entire Harry Potter series) but I started off this summer with a bang, with books I didn't think I'd like.

It's no secret to those who know me that I'm obsessed with Meg Cabot. I think she's a genius. I think J.K. Rowling is a genius too, but I value Meg's opinion on everything, not just books. She once had a pink streak in her hair, just because. While she was in her 40s. She writes from the point of view of teenage girls, and it's convincing. I see parts of myself in all of her characters. Plus, she's so great to her readers. It's really a shame she didn't want kids because she would've been awesome at being a mom, I'm sure of it. She probably deserves her own post in this blog.

I was iffy about her Airhead series, featuring a typically beautiful model on the cover. I read the summary on Amazon and thought it wouldn't be anything special. I gave the book a chance and read it, and I instantly loved it. It's narrated by Em, your standard 16-year-old social pariah, which is Meg's go-to character because she figures lots of readers can relate to social outcast-type characters, and she's right. Anyway, Em has a little accident, and the next thing you know she wakes up inside the body of the person she least wants to be - teen supermodel sensation Nikki Howard. Yep, she had a brain transplant, thanks to the company Nikki works for, Stark Enterprises, which is basically Disney + Wal-Mart + any other major corporation rolled into one. She has to stick to Nikki's modeling contract, and no one outside of her family can know that she's really herself, Em Watts. She can't even tell her best friend (and the boy she's secretly in love with), Christopher.

I'm kind of ashamed for having my doubts...of course if Meg Cabot wrote it, it's awesome. Period. Airhead did not disappoint. I'm no 12-year-old, but it was fascinating seeing this incredibly glamorous life through Nikki's eyes, in a nicer way than the cynically trashy narrative of the Gossip Girl books.

The second book in the series, Being Nikki, kept me glued the entire plane ride home from California. There is a definite sci-fi twist to this story because of the whole brain-transplant thing. It gets creepier in the sequel. I won't spoil it for you, but Stark has something dark hidden under their spotless exterior. Meg Cabot also plays up the romance thing, as usual, with Christopher (and the many celebrity boys who are in love with Nikki - her body, anyway).

Finally, the recently released Runaway wraps up the trilogy, and last night I sped-read to get to the end. I totally saw what was coming, but that doesn't mean I wasn't on the edge of my seat. I won't spoil the ending, but it was freaky, y'all. Go buy all three books, or at least borrow them from me.

On the other end of the spectrum, my new favorite celebrity is Chelsea Handler, comedian and star of late-night show Chelsea Lately. She's confident, she's funny, and she's hot, aight? Look at her!

I never thought I'd read her books based on the titles: My Horizontal Life and Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. Well out of pure curiosity I picked up the latter in the little bookshop in Santa Ana's airport. And I laughed so raucously on the plane that I disturbed the people sitting around me. Yesterday I bought My Horizontal Life at Barnes and Noble and finished it today. Chelsea is a dirty girl and writes wildly inappropriate things, but dude, she's hilarious. She uses my favorite brand of comedy, and that is dry sarcasm. Plus, I admire someone who speaks so frankly about herself and life in general. Here's my $15.99, Chelsea, thanks for making me laugh harder than I have in ages. (Plus, for those who might be shocked by the content of her books, Chelsea confesses at the end of her first book that she realizes her life really is horizontal, because it's not going anywhere thanks to all her one-night stands. She decides to get more serious about her life. So she throws in a lesson with all the laughs.)

I'll probably get started on her third book, "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang," tomorrow. If I can keep a straight face in front of customers, which I doubt.

What have you been reading lately?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

twitter giveaway results!

It's 12:22am, it's been a weird day, and we may or may not be going to Disneyland tomorrow, depending on the state of my grandma's health (she needs your prayers, guys). Either way, it's the end of the Twitter giveaway! I was blown away by how many responses I received. I learned a lot about Disneyland trivia while having fun, and I hope y'all did, too!

I wanted to do this via webcam, but my computer won't cooperate: I put one slip of paper for every correct answer into a big bowl (I had a LOT of pieces of paper in there!) and pulled random ones without looking. My mama is my witness! Here we go...*drumroll*

First place: winner of Disneyland merchandise of his choice, up to $30: @kjmaje.

Second & third places: winners of smaller Disney surprises: @hatboxfiend and @bigdsp.

The winners can direct-message me their addresses on Twitter.

(If we end up not going to California in the morning, I will try to find something Disney-related around town, instead.)

Thanks to everyone who played along! It was a blast. Here are the questions and answers for those who missed them!

1. What American town was Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A. designed after?
- An idealized version of Marceline, Missouri, Walt Disney's hometown.

2. Which Disneyland attraction first used Audio-Animatronics technology?
- The Enchanted Tiki Room, which opened in 1963.

3. Where are the controls for the fireworks show Fantasmic! located in Disneyland Park (more than one answer)?
- Possible answers: Cider Mill on Tom Sawyer's Island; the balcony near the Disney Gallery; a light tower in Frontierland.

4. What is the name of the statue in the hub of Disneyland Park featuring Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse?
- "Partners."

5. What is the name of Disneyland's paddle boat? (Hint: Its Walt Disney World twin's name is the Liberty Belle.)
- The Mark Twain.

6. Imagineer X Atencio wrote the song "Grim Grinning Ghosts" for Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. Which other iconic song did he write for another beloved Disneyland attraction?
- "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me" in Pirates of the Caribbean.

7. In honor of Mother's Day, what is the name of Walt Disney's mother?
- Flora Call Disney.

8. The Imagineers use a special technique to make buildings throughout the Disney parks look taller than they actually are. What is this technique called?
- Forced perspective.

9. Which themed land is home to Splash Mountain in Disneyland?
- Critter Country.

10. Which Disney Imagineer designed the concept art for "it's a small world," not to mention several Disney movies and the mural in Walt Disney World's Contemporary Resort (famous for its five-legged goat)?
- Mary Blair.

11. What is the name of Disneyland Park's nighttime parade (which will soon be shipped to Florida for the "Summer Nightastic" promotion at WDW)?
- Main Street Electrical Parade.

12. Which attraction replaced Disneyland's Carousel of Progress in 1974?
- America Sings.

13. What is the name of the cab Guests board in Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin? (Hint: it's not Benny.)
- Lenny, Benny's twin brother! (Benny is a character from the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Roger is driving him throughout the attraction.)

14. For their 31st wedding anniversary, Walt Disney gave his wife Lillian a very unique gift. It's on display in Frontierland. What is this gift?
- A petrified tree stump.

Well, that's it, guys! I won't be blogging from the parks, but hopefully you'll still follow me on Twitter! (If we go.) Please keep my grandma in your prayers!

Have a magical, blessed week.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

win free disney merch! srsly!

Hey guys! Guess what? I leave for the Disneyland Resort on May 18th, which is 15 days away! So in honor of my very first trip to Walt's original park, I decided to have a little Twitter giveaway. My friends @kidanikatie and @shaene_o_mite did Disney-themed Twitter giveaways of their own recently - I won an "it's a small world" t-shirt from Shaene! - so I decided to continue spreading the Disney love.

I'll be posting a Disney trivia question every morning up the 17th. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is answer the question correctly. Don't worry, I'll try to make some of the questions easy enough so that non-Disney fanatics will have a chance to win, too! For every question that you answer correctly, your name will go into a hat. So if you answer every question - 14 total - and get ten of those right, then your name will go into my hat 10 times.

And what can you win from this giveaway, you ask? The grand prize winner will get a Disneyland souvenir of their choice, valued at $30 or under. Anything goes: t-shirt, snowglobe, Vinylmation - whatever, as long as it's $30! Two other winners will get something a little smaller.

My Twitter name is @SusieNotSusan, and I hope to see lots of participants!

Everyone have a magical week! (Good luck preparing for finals, LSU people!)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

heri ya siku kuu!

That means "happy birthday" in Swahili! Today is Earth Day, and it's also the twelfth birthday of Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park! (Coincidence? No! The Imagineers planned it that way, of course!)

I'm one of the first people to admit that AK is my least favorite of the four parks. I'd much rather immerse myself in the wonder of the MK or the glamour of DHS - although lately I find myself appreciating Epcot much more than I used to. I'm one of those people who is usually content with spending half a day at AK before scooting off to an afternoon at World Showcase.

Today, however, I find myself reflecting on WDW's newest park and appreciating the little things about it. My friends Rikki and Katie both posted their thoughts on AK, and I think they capture the park's essence perfectly. AK is a very interesting park in terms of statistics: it's the largest of all four parks, and its symbol is the "Tree of Life," a majestic manmade tree that towers over the park on Discovery Island. Over 300 animals are carved into the "tree"'s base by a number of incredibly talented artists.

There are those who believe that Disney is run by a group of money-hungry vultures, but AK is proof against that. The park was inspired by Walt Disney's passion for animals and conservation. For example, you won't find drinking straws at the restaurants inside AK, because they are harmful to the animals if swallowed. Disney is very careful to protect the wildlife inside the park.

AK gets a bad rap for being a zoo. Actually, its motto is "nahtazu" - not a zoo, get it? It's a park teeming with animals, yes, but it's also filled with thrill rides like Dinosaur and Expedition Everest. The park offers some of the best counter service restaurants in the World. And of course, it's Disney, so the attention to detail goes above and beyond. A cult favorite "hidden gem" is DiVine, a woman wearing stilts who blends into the background of the trees so well that you might not spot her until she decides to surprise you!

I will always have fond memories of my very first Internet Disney community meet at Flame Tree Barbecue in January with the BOGP group!

In addition to having an entire park devoted to animals and conversation, Disney also continues Walt's passion for the environment through the Walt Disney Conservation Fund, the Disney Wilderness Preserve, the Disneynature series for Imax, and Disney Friends for Change: Project Green, which collaborates with Disney Channel stars like Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato.

Some interesting facts about Disney's efforts to reduce their eco footprint can be found at the official Disney Parks blog.

I hope everyone has a magical Earth Day!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

i solemnly swear i am up to no good.

Did you know that before Christian, I loved another boy? Hard to believe, since I was so young. But 2010 marks ten years since I first fell in love with this kid. Some people say that first loves never die. I guess in many ways that's true, because this young man will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Yep, that's my man right there with his two best friends. To be honest, it was unrequited. Harry never really knew I existed.

I love telling the story about how I fell in love with him. I owe it all to my friend Brandy. We were best friends in fifth grade (in the year 2000), and we were the geeky kids who played Nancy Drew computer games together and came to school the next day to compare notes on our progress. We wrote in our diaries and read books at recess. We were completely content in our geekdom. Harry Potter was wildly popular then, but I refused to get sucked into the fad. I knew it was some book series about a kid who found out he was wizard. It had a stupid-looking book cover of the kid riding a broom. How dumb, I thought. Well, my worst fears were realized when Brandy started reading these books - and raving about them.

"Come on, you have to read them," she'd say emphatically. I always resolutely refused. No way was I reading some dumb book about a kid wizard. Finally one day, Brandy snapped.

"Read the first chapter of the first book. It'll take you five minutes. I swear if you hate it I'll never bother you about it again," she said solemnly.

I thought about it. She'd never bother me about it again? Fine. I agreed. I took home Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and read the first chapter. I was immediately caught up in the mysteriousness of the wizarding world. I delighted in how purely British it was: "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." I couldn't stop at chapter one. I read the entire thing, and a sort of frenzy began. I devoured Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in rapid succession. I actually racked up a juicy library fee from keeping Goblet of Fire three weeks past the day it was due, despite having read it in two days; I kept it in the cubby below my desk, and I'd take it out from time to time to read my favorite passages and stare lovingly at the front cover.

Harry might be fictional, but I thought he was the finest thing EVA.I wish I were making this up, but it's true, people. I was a girl obsessed. Brandy was very smug and delighted that she had someone to discuss Harry Freaking Amazing Potter with.

After finishing book four, I panicked. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix wouldn't come out until 2003 - THREE YEARS LATER. I was like a drug addict suffering from withdrawals. What do you mean, no more Harry Potter? I thought I'd never survive. But we HP diehard fans soothed ourselves with the movies and merchandise, and reread the books every so often. Finally 2003 did come, and Half-Blood Prince came two years later. Finally, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came in 2007.

I'd followed the series from the age of ten to the age of seventeen. I'd literally grown up with Harry. I knew my fictional friends so well - I'd laughed with them and cried with them. Brandy, our friend Allie, and I went to the midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows at Barnes and Noble on July 20, 2007. I'll never forget that night. My emotions were bittersweet - we were finally, finally going to see how it all ended. But did I really want to know? In some ways, I didn't. Because it would mean the end of Harry's story. It would be the last time I'd experience the happy exhaustion that comes with reading furiously until the sun comes up. And I knew that revisiting the series wouldn't be the same as cracking open a fresh Potter book.

The excitement at Barnes and Noble that night was almost tangible. At midnight, everyone began screaming hysterically - you'd think Harry himself had ridden his Firebolt into our midst. There was much fidgeting as we waited our turn at the register, but we were among the first twenty people to hold that prized book in our hands. We immediately turned and ran from the store, in fear that some kid would scream out the ending just to spoil everyone's fun (yes, that has happened before). I trembled as I opened the front cover and read the words, "We now present the seventh and final installment in the epic tale of Harry Potter."

I didn't turn on the TV or radio until I finished the book, and I didn't dare check the Internet for fear of spoilers. And when I finished it, I experienced a mix of joy and numbness. You know how when someone dies, you don't start crying until later, because you're in shock? That's how I was. I didn't cry the first time I read HP7 (but boy, I used half a box of Kleenex during the second round).
I'm happy to report that almost two years after the release of HP7, my ardor is not dead. I reread the series every summer, and I look forward to visiting Harry again this summer. I cannot WAIT until I get the chance to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (the sole reason I'd visit another theme park in Orlando besides Disney).

Just the other day I was discussing Harry with a good friend who shares a love for HP. He said, "There are two kinds of people in this world: those who say Harry Potter sucks, and those who have read it." It was like describing myself, circa 2000. Of course, there are people who don't like HP - and that's cool. But I think it really says something when a series has such a cult following. I have SO MUCH respect for JKR - she's a bloody genius. I mean that. She's brought more meaning to my life through her "children's" novels than anyone with a Ph.D. has. That's why HP7 is my favorite book - no other book has come close to making me feel the way I felt when I held a brand new Harry Potter.

So that, friends, is the story of my long and emotional relationship with the boy wizard. Ginny Weasley doesn't know how lucky she is.

Long live the Boy Who Lived!

Mischief managed.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

easter in the country

Yeah, I realize I'm a week late on this. It was a busy spring break (and by busy, I mean lazy) so I'm just getting around to this. Anyway, I went with Christian to his grandparents' for Easter Sunday. They live a good two hours away, so I don't get to visit there too often, but they're some of the nicest people ever. Their house is in the country and it's really pretty.

(All pictures were stolen from Ms. Stacy's Facebook. Thanks, Aunt Stacy!)

Christian's parents, Mr. Sam and Mrs. Stephanie; his grandparents, Mrs. Carolyn and Mr. Steve; his Uncle Brian and Aunt Rachel; and his Aunt Stacy.

Mr. Brian, his son Nick, and Mr. Steve barbecuing for us:

Christian's cousin Hailey with her adorable niece, Abby:

My best friend (and Christian's sister) Coryn, with her boyfriend Harold:

Chrusie :)

And the best picture ever taken in the history of the world:

See why I love this family so much? I call them my Cullens. Except I don't have to worry about them eating me. Which is cool, I guess.

We played with Abby, swung outside, rode around on the Mule (which is like a golf cart on steroids. They call me a city girl, because I had no clue what it was), ate lots of amazing food, and just hung out. It was a super nice day! Hopefully I can visit again sometime soon.

Hope everyone's having a good Sunday!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

any man can be a father, but it takes something special to be a daddy.

Today is a pretty signifcant day for my family.

Two years ago, my parents and I booked a trip to our favorite vacation destination for my spring break. That trip really stands out in my mind. We stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter, which is probably my favorite resort. It was my senior year, so they bought me an adorable graduation Mickey hat - which happened to come in my school colors. We went to the incredible Pirate and Princess Party at the Magic Kingdom. We had fun riding the Mad Tea Party and laughing like fools, and stuffed ourselves with Mickey Premium bars. It was a carefree, amazing week. Mostly.

See, Daddy and I tease my mom because she walks so fast throughout the park. She's like a seven-year-old that just consumed ten Pixi Stix in a row. It's no small feat to keep up with her when she's on a mission. "Let's go grab FastPasses for Expedition Everest!" she'll cry, that familiar manic glint in her eyes, before taking off for Asia, with Daddy and me panting as we race through Discovery Island.

This trip, Daddy was having more than the usual trouble keeping up with her. He complained of small pains in his chest. We were concerned, but figured it was time for stints to be placed in his arteries. We know a lot of middle-aged guys who have had stints done. I mean, it's a fact that if you live in Southern Louisiana, you're not going to eat right all the time, so this is rather common. So we thought, Ok, he'll schedule an appointment when we get home to get his heart checked out.

He went to the doctor the next Wednesday, and not a moment too soon. The doc said he had 90,70, and 50% blockages in the major arteries in his heart. Very little blood was passing through, and his heart was under a lot of stress. Basically, he was a walking bomb - he could've had a devastating heart attack if they hadn't caught it right then. We were shocked when his doc had him immediately transferred to a hospital in Baton Rouge: they were operating the next day, triple bypass.

Those few days were kind of a blur. I was in school, I was graduating the next month, I was to wear the dress of my dreams to my senior prom that weekend - and suddenly my dad was in this terrible, life-threatening situation. I didn't go to school on Thursday, but sat around a waiting room, staring at magazines without taking in the words. I remember when they took my dad into surgery: my mom and I clutched each other and cried. What if he died? I couldn't help wondering. What if he doesn't get to see me graduate, or go to LSU, or get married and have kids? We'd been so happy at Disney World not even a week ago, but it felt like years since I laughed with my dad in a spinning teacup.

He was okay when he came out of surgery, but it was a long and difficult recovery process. I think that was the hardest part for me. My dad, who'd always been strong and capable of anything, could not lift anything heavy or exert himself for several weeks. I did go to the prom, but the traditional ritual of parents taking pictures beforehand was done in a small, crowded hospital room so my dad could see my in my Belle dress. It was a long road to recovery, but at least he was okay. He got to see me graduate and go to LSU, and I pray to God that he'll be there for major events in my life in the future.

I thank God every day for my dad, especially after April 10, 2008. He's such a great person. He's quiet in front of people he doesn't know, but he says the funniest things at home. He hates blueberries and is the pickiest eater, but is satisfied with a simple Mickey bar for dessert at WDW. He's a NASCAR freak, a Disney fan, an American history buff, a car mechanic, an awesome husband to my mom, and an amazing dad to me. Like any traumatic event, I think his ordeal brought the three of us closer together. He can't do all the things he used to, but he's still strong. His current project is converting our patio to a sunroom.

I'm looking forward to racing around Disneyland with him and my mom in May.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

the dark side of the english department

I can't imagine choosing a major other than English. Writing papers gives me a sense of satisfaction, even as I agonize over choosing thesis statements and stay up until 3 am to finish writing before the deadlines. Reading has always been fun for me, since I was a toddler.

One day in my freshman year, I was sitting with a bunch of fellow English majors, and we were chatting about - what else? - books. There happened to be a copy of The Princess Bride lying around, and one girl rolled her eyes and smiled derisively. "At least it's not Dan Brown!" she snickered. I was taken aback. I had no idea that Dan Brown was not Appropriate Reading Material For English Majors. This was my first encounter with a Book Snob.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Book Snobs, let me describe them for you. Book Snobs are usually, but not always, literature majors who read "the classics" when others their age read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. They have read Harry Potter, but do not consider the series to be a "favorite" because it isn't "serious literature." One of their favorite pastimes is mocking the Twilight series and bemoaning how badly Stephenie Meyer writes. They are not caught dead with "beach read" books, such as Dan Brown or Meg Cabot. They do not watch TV, except for the news, the Discovery Channel, or maybe HBO if Shakespeare in Love happens to be on. They often walk around quoting their favorite long-dead Russian author. The more extreme Book Snobs prefer black turtlenecks, black coffee, and black framed glasses.

You think I'm joking? I have observed these beings in their natural habitats: the library, the writing center, the English department, and my own English classes. These people repulse me, my friends. I admit, they used to intimidate me. I used to find myself musing, "Maybe I shouldn't be an English major. My favorite books are Harry Potter 7 and Gone With the Wind. I don't like poetry. I don't like William Faulkner. Oh my God, I'm a disgrace!" Then I'd sink lower in my seat and listen meekly to the witty banter of the Book Snobs around me.

I felt like I didn't fit in. And I was ashamed.

Then, this semester, I realized how much I dislike Book Snobs. I don't mind if Absolum! Absolum! is your favorite book ever, or if you'd much rather delve into a little Tolstoy than watch American Idol. I'm not saying that the above description means you're a bad person. It doesn't, really, unless you think you're better than others because you prefer so-called "serious" or "higher-level" literature. True Book Snobs take themselves too seriously. Pretentiousness is the defining characteristic of Book Snobs, and it's not a pretty thing.

This is my confession to the Book Snobs across the world: My name is Susie, I'm a sophomore lit/creative writing major, and I hate William Faulkner. My favorite writers include J.K. Rowling (duh), Shakespeare, Meg Cabot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ridley Pearson. I like "kiddie" books, like The Kingdom Keepers and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. And you know what? It's okay for me to be bizarrely obsessed with a certain fictional nearsighted wizard. It's okay for me to read Moby Dick and not know what the heck's going on. It's okay for me to be a non-Book Snob English major.

I'm gonna go drool over this, now. I can't wait to read it!

What's your favorite book? (I promise I won't sneer.)

"living on love, buying on time, without somebody nothin' ain't worth a dime."

Oh, if only money grew on trees. If only.

So, money is a pretty important thing. No, it's not more important than love, or being truly happy, etc. But financial security is pretty crucial to not being so stressed out that you forget to enjoy life. I don't really worry about money much - yet - because I still live with my parents, and because I am blessed with an excellent job for anyone in this economy, let alone a college student. (I won't say how much I make, but I am probably making more now than I will when I'm a teacher.)

However, sometimes I forget how lucky I am. Sometimes I complain because my car is from 1996 and therefore tends to need a lot of work/parts. I complain because I burn so much gas commuting to Baton Rouge. I complain because my boyfriend can't afford to take me out to nice restaurants every weekend.

Then, I was talking to my parents (who are really amazing people, by the way). They were practically broke for a long time after they were married. But they got through the tough times, and they were happy anyway.

I watched Gone With the Wind today. One of my favorite movies ever, probably because Scarlett is such a trooper. The Yankees take almost everything from her and she still finds a way to get through. That's what real financial desperation is, the Reconstruction era. Scarlett inspires me.

I'm so much luckier than that. Someday, I'll have saved enough money for dinners at cool restaurants and a nice car. Maybe someday, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to buy into DVC! Ya never know. But for now, I'm a college student, and my boyfriend is broke. I can deal. Because at the end of the day, we have this.

Have a good Thursday!

Monday, April 5, 2010

true confessions

A couple Fridays ago, my friend Katie tweeted, "What #Disney ride haven't you been on or what famous Disney ride don't you like? #confessfriday." This one tweet started a phenomenon within the Disney Twitter community. People confessed that they'd never ridden Splash Mountain or that they hate Dole Whips. It was somewhat embarrasing, at first, but I quickly realized how liberating it was to get these confessions off my chest.

A lot of people ask me, "So, is there, like, anything at Disney World you haven't done?" I guess they expect me to shrug and reply, "Nope. Been there, seen that, done it all." Wrong. There is a lot I have yet to experience at WDW...

My Disney Confessions:
1. I've never had the infamous school bread from the bakery in Norway, though it has a cult following like the Dole Whip.

2. I've never seen the Electrical Water Pageant, which is an electrical parade that takes place on the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom nightly (weather permitting).

3. I have yet to experience Drinking Around the World, which involves having a drink at every country in Epcot's World Showcase. (I guess this is obvious, since I'm not 21.)

4. I don't believe I've ever ridden Dumbo. I don't see the hype, other than the fact that it's considered a Classic Disney Must-Do in the Disney Fanatics community. The lines are always ridiculously long, and I'd just rather spend my precious time waiting in line for Big Thunder.

5. I've never eaten at Jiko, 'Ohana, California Grill, Narcoossee's, Le Cellier, Artist Point, Citrico's, or Victoria & Albert's. These are some of the most expensive resorts on property - I'm talking $150 for one person, easy. Sigh. Someday, though, I hope to experience the renowned Bananas Foster Bread Pudding at 'Ohana.

And guess what? There's a heck of a lot I'm not 'fessing up right now because 1. I don't want to bore you and 2. I gotta save my material for the next round of #confessfriday!

Non-related Disney confession: I don't get the iPad hype. (And it will forever bother me that I don't know what Apple's prefix "i" stands for.)

One last thing to make you laugh: I came across this article today, Ten Signs You May Have a Disney Addiction. My readers might be surprised to find out that I'm not as obsessed as some are - I checked "yes" to 10, 8, 5, 2, and 1.

That's it for today, folks. Have a magical day!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

i found something beautiful.

This Holy Week has been a really powerful time for me - I made more progress in my prayer life in the past six days than in the rest of Lent put together. For several months I hadn't really felt like I was as close to God was I was, say, this time last year, and I didn't really know what was wrong. I felt like there was a veil between Him and me, and I was waiting for Him to take it down. This week, I woke up.

First, temporarily giving up the majority of my Disney obsession was the best thing I could've done for myself. It helped me get my priorities in order. Sure, I missed it a lot at first, and I'll be glad to get back to my message boards, but I was able to do other things with my time. I spent more time on homework and other things. I found out that my Disney friends and I have so many things in common, and Tweeted regularly about random things. So they became actual friends, not just Disney friends.

Second, I was involved in my first-ever Passion play this year. At my high school, the senior class put on a "Living Way of the Cross" every year. It wasn't nearly the same experience as a real Passion play. My friends Kori and Theresa did an amazing job writing the script and directing. The actors were perfectly suited for their characters. My friend Ashley blew me away as the Blessed Mother, and I saw some of my guy friends in a completely different light after watching them portray Pilate, pharisees, and Jesus Himself.
Everyone really threw themselves into this play, from the main actors to the singers, from the makeup artists (who made "Jesus" look sickeningly bloody) to the light technicians. It was amazing to watch the whole process unfold, and to see everyone strengthening in their roles. At the first few practices, our directors advised us to take a few minutes to "get into character." I admit that at first I thought to myself, "Really? I'm not a theatre major. I don't know what I'm doing. I have a lot of homework, so I'm ready to just say my few lines and head home." But by the third practice or so, I realized that getting into character really made a difference.

I actually had two roles: I was part of the mob scene, and I was a weeping woman. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum! Getting into character meant concentrating on being really angry, ready to scream out, "Crucify Him! He's a blasphemer, surely He deserves to die!" while impatiently crossing my arms over my chest. Then a moment later I had to switch to being distraught, sharing in His anguish, crying, "Master, how could they have done this to You?" Um, talk about difficult. But it was a very rewarding process. Last week, I focused on being a weeping woman with my free time. I listened to "Via Dolorosa" over and over again. I watched clips of Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" on YouTube. It really made a difference with my mindset.
During the performance, I looked at my sisters who were playing the other weeping women, and I saw them differently. It was like I was really seeing them as women of Jerusalem instead of the girls I know every day. I looked into the eyes of Christy, the girl who played Veronica, and I saw real pain in her eyes - shared pain that we felt as we bore witness, centuries after it actually happened, to our Savior's earth-shattering death. The veils on our heads were at first annoying pieces of cloth that refused to stay in place, but by the end of the experience I felt even more beautiful wearing it. I guess that's what getting into character is all about.

Though I'm really sad that the experience is over, I'm so glad I put in those few hours a week into that play. I got closer to my friends and to Jesus and His Mother. It made me realize how blessed I am, and how much He loves me. It woke me up from the selfish stupor I'd been in - the problem wasn't that God wasn't reaching out to me at all. The problem was that I was blowing Him off most of the time, putting time and energy into hobbies instead of Him.

My current favorite song is "Something Beautiful" by a Christian band called needtobreathe. I was listening to this song in the car on Wednesday when my revelation hit me like a sack of Easter eggs. This is the chorus:

"Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire,
'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees.
I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful."

This has been the best Holy Week ever, by far.

I hope everyone has a blessed Easter!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?

Ye have been warned, this post contains spoilers.

I'm finally managing to write my review of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland in 3D. I saw it last weekend (though it feels like months ago) with Christian, his sister Coryn, and her boyfriend Harold. Because it was a Disney movie, I wanted to see it. Because it was a sequel to the original Alice in Wonderland, I was not extremely enthusiastic. Walt himself said, "I've never believed in doing sequels. I didn't want to waste the time I have doing a sequel; I'd rather be using that time doing something new and different.” And have you seen some of the Disney sequels? They're awful. I'm also not OMG OBSESSED!!1! with Tim Burton the way a lot of people are. But I kept an open mind...

This was no "Belle's Magical World," or even "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." It was exquisite: Tim Burton managed to make it sinister without being overtly creepy, and beautiful without making me feel like I was stuck in a world of computer-generated images.

Of course, it follows Alice's journey back to Wonderland. It's been so long since I've read Lewis Carroll's book that I can't compare the book to the movie, but Burton's version goes further in depth with the plot and characters than Walt's animated version. I was disappointed that there was no singing ("A very merry unbirthday!" "To me?" "Yes, you!"), but the tone of this movie was somber, not lighthearted like the animated feature. It reminded me of the 1985 Disney film Return to Oz, actually.

Alice herself is a very complex character - she's come a long way from the seven-and-half year old child was in her first visit to Wonderland. She is now 19, and because she lives in Victorian England, there's a lot of pressure on her to act like a perfect lady; however, it's clear from the beginning that Alice is different from girls her age. She feels pressure from her family and society to get married because "she's getting older and her face won't last," but in her heart she knows that she doesn't want to lead a boring, stuffy life with a man who doesn't love or understand her. She's very much a modern, indepedent person stuck trapped inside the body of a nineteenth-century fragile doll.

She runs away from the real world and the problems in her own life, once again falls down the rabbit hole, and finds herself in Wonderland. But she doesn't remember anything about her previous experience in this surreal place. I won't spoil the reason why she was needed back in Wonderland, but she is faced with the decision of saving everyone from the wrath of the Red Queen. Throughout her journey, she comes to term with who she is and who she feels called to become.

Oh, and did I mention that Mia Wasikowska is gorgeous?

Johnny Depp's portrayal of the Mad Hatter was incredible. I wanted to be friends with the Hatter. He's still bonkers, but he's not his usual self. He's worried, like everyone else in Wonderland, about the fate of their beloved word at the hands of the Red Queen and her terrible weapon. He plays a much more important role in this sequel because he teaches Alice something very important. He sadly tells her, "You used to be much more...muchier. You've lost your muchness." He represents childhood, in a way; he isn't afraid to be mad, and he isn't afraid to believe in the impossible. He teaches Alice that in order to fulfil her role in Wonderland, she must revert back to the mindset she had when she was a child. "Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast," Alice confides in the Hatter. "That," he answers, "is an excellent practice."

(There should be a picture of the amazing Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, but it didn't want to show up. :[ )

Then there's the presence of good and evil in this movie. Obviously Iracebeth, the Red Queen, represents evil. (And there is no one better suited to play a crazy, cruel queen than Helena Bonham Carter, who plays the role fantastically.) But what about her sister Mirana, the White Queen? Anne Hathway is stunning, no doubt, and we are much more inclined to like her because of her unfailing kindness - but would we really want to be like her? Anne Hathaway said that her character comes from the same gene pool as her sister, but took a vow not to harm any living thing out of fear that she would go too far. I found myself pitying her.

Is it better to be good and infinitely loved, like the White Queen, but ultimately powerless to protect oneself, held captive by that very goodness? Is it better to be bad, like the Red Queen, protecting oneself and exercising power but losing everyone's faith and love in the process? To me, neither of these are ideal. Alice is a fusion of both Queens - kind and well-loved like Mirana, but strong and able to protect herself like Iracebeth.

In the end, despite the Hatter asking her to stay, Alice realizes that staying in Wonderland won't solve her real world problems - but the real world doesn't have to be a nightmare. Life is what she makes of it. So it's with great difficulty that she says goodbye to her beloved Wonderland and travels back to her life. It's a paradox that in keeping the heart of a child, she grows up.

I saw so much of myself in this Alice - 19, headstrong and somewhat rebellious, questioning everything. She always says the wrong thing, and people don't take her seriously because she's so "distracted"; in other words, she has a wonderful imagination. But eventually, she learns to accept herself despite others' opinions, and realizes that it's okay to believe in the impossible.

The ending of the movie was emotional for me: it was like seeing myself up there on the screen, realizing that realistically I cannot stay at WDW and saying a bittersweet goodbye. There's a whole lot I could say about this movie, but that would take far too long. I think anyone who was ever enchanted by the idea of falling down a rabbit hole into another world should see this, though, because it really is a masterpiece.

As for sequels, I feel like this one would make Uncle Walt change his mind, at least this once. It's much harder to enchant adults than children, and even harder to persuade them to believe in the impossibility of magic. This movie does both, which makes it pure Disney.

I hope everyone has an opportunity to see it. May you never lose your muchiness.

And as for why a raven is like a writing desk, I have no idea.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

breaking news: susie gets political

Disclaimer: this post might shock/offend you, so read at your own risk. But if you do read, keep an open mind.

I don't do politics. I vote, and I try to educate myself on current events, but I hate politics. I consider myself to be a positive person most of the time, but I am absolutely cynical when it comes to politicians. I just believe that nothing short of a miracle will straighten out this country's epic fail of a mess, so I'd really rather not think about it most of the time.

However, I do actually have political opinions, though I don't usually advertise them. I decided to blog about them today, in honor of the fact that March is Women's History Month.

In my very first semester at LSU, I took a women and gender studies (WGS) class. It was an elective for English majors, and I went in curious but unsure of what to expect. I kept an open mind and I was blown away by a lot of the stuff we learned. It also stuck out in my mind because of how open and friendly my classmates were. In fact, I'm still friends with one of the girls in that class. The class really broadened my horizons and made me realize how I was ignorant in many ways.

I learned about feminism. Feminism is a word that has many negative connotations. Some people think it was a movement that's over. Some associate feminism with butch, bitchy women who hate men. This is a gross generalization. Sure, there are some feminists out there like that. A lot of feminists are angry because the world has been such an unfair place for women for a very long time. I'm angry too, sometimes. But most feminists don't hate men. Actually, in the very simplest of terms, feminism means equality for both women and men. It doesn't mean that women are better than men. It's about equality.

Or at least, it used to it. It still is, in some ways. Women still make less money than men in the working world. Companies still don't always support very much maternity leave, and they support paternity leave even less. Women are still sexually harassed/assaulted/abused every day. But there have actually been three waves of feminism. The second wave died in around the late '80s, and the third wave continues today. But we have this problem, where so many women don't want to be identified with feminism. They believe that they cannot be feminists and still maintain their femininity.

I've always believed that I can be a strong, independent woman - a feminist - without it getting in the way of being feminine. I love wearing vintage dresses and makeup. I'm not saying that we should all burn our bras and stop shaving (that's entirely up to you). I do reject conventions of negative body images that are so rampant in the media. I do resent that almost forty years after the Equal Rights Amendment was passed, we STILL don't have equality in this country. It's outrageous. I am angry every time I hear of a rape case that wasn't reported because there would be no point to report it - because it's so hard to press charges in almost every rape situation.

Wake up - this is a problem, and we are only fueling this problem if we shy away from the word "feminism." We are slapping our foremothers, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many others, in the faces when we do this.

Men also have issues with the word. Why can't men be feminists? Any man who loves his mama, maw maw, sister, wife, and/or daughter should want equal rights for them, and should not be afraid to say so. This isn't a battle we will win alone.

I learned even more in that WGS class. As a Catholic, I'm supposed to be vehemently against abortion and contraceptives. We had a discussion about this in class one day. One girl stood up and calmly said, "I don't like the term 'pro-life.' That indicates that I'm pro-death. And I'm not. I don't want innocent babies to die. The issue is about power. It's about the government telling me what I can and cannot do with my own body. If abortion is outlawed, it will go back to the way it was in the '60s - coathangers in back alleys. It will lead to the government restraining my body in other ways." I sat there in shock. She was right.

I struggle with this issue all the time. Of course, there are options such as adoption, or heck, not having sex if you don't want a baby in the first place. But is that realistic? Same with the idea of contraceptives. The statistics have shown that abstinence-only methods in high schools don't work. Know why? Because some kids are gonna have sex. Many won't, like those who grow up in religious households and either truly believe that they should wait or at least feel guilty about it. But some always will. Wouldn't it be better for a girl to know how to protect herself from STDs and unwanted pregnancy if she's going to become sexually active? If I were a mother, I would pray that my daughter would practice abstinence, but in the event that she didn't, I certainly wouldn't want her to be unprotected.

I wear a ring on my left hand that bears the inscription of 1 Corinthians 6:19, which goes something like this, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? You are not your own." It's partially a purity ring and partially a reminder to not disrespect my body at all, because I'm just borrowing it. But unfortunately, not everyone believes this way. This is exactly why the separation of church and state exists. Who am I to impose my beliefs on another woman? I'm not God, and I can't judge anyone. So maybe it's best that we encourage abstinence, but still teach kids how to use birth control and condoms so they don't get themselves into terrible situations.

I won't go so far as to say maybe abortion should be legal, because at the end of the day, I can't bear the thought of the government allowing fetuses to be terminated. But I will say this - I don't much relish the idea of the government telling me what to do with my body, either.

If you've gotten this far, kudos. I hope I didn't offend you, but I also hope that I made you think a bit more about these issues. Please leave a comment or send me an email with your thoughts - if you agree or disagree, if you are exhilarated or outraged. I'd like to know.

Have a blessed, magical day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

nightmare on susie's street

I've had lots of things on my mind lately that I've been meaning to blog about, but I haven't gotten around to it thanks to midterms last week.

Firstly, a topic that is amusing to some and sympathetic to others: my reaction to a little slasher film known as Nightmare on Elm Street. If you know anything about me, you'll know that I stopped watching scary movies a long time ago. My best friend loves them, so I used to hesitantly watch them with her, but I put my foot down when I was in high school. What's so fun about having the pants scared off you? If I want to feel scared or uneasy, I'll turn on the news. I like happy films that take me away from reality.

So, I have been very content with my horror movie-free diet these past few years. Until last Friday. I vaguely remembered seeing it listed on our syllabus, but it wasn't ringing any bells. Nightmare on Elm Street...Nightmare on Elm Street...oh yeah, isn't that the movie that has the misleadingly scary title but actually isn't scary?

It dawned on me, as the first girl of the film was being slashed to bits - blood flying in arcs across the screen - that the movie I'd been thinking of was The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

So what's Nightmare on Elm Street about? Oh, nothin' big deal...just the infamous serial killer, Freddy Kruger. Who likes to kill his victims in their dreams, so it's not safe to sleep.

Oh, did I mention that my parents happened to be out of town that week, happily sailing through the Bahamas, so I had the displeasure of going home to an empty house that night?

Horror movie + empty house + wild imagination = disaster.

Thankfully, my good friend did me a favor and stayed with me that night so I didn't die of cardiac arrest every time the cuckoo clock went off. I still had trouble getting to sleep, though. Every time I closed my eyes I saw that terrible burned face, heard the horrific sound of his razor-blade nails scraping through his victims...

What kind of class would have such a movie on its syllabus, you ask? Is it a study of horror films? Um, no. It's an adolescent lit class (and the name should be changed to adolescent media, obviously). I asked my [crazy, demented, Disney-hating] teacher today, "Why did we watch Freddy Freaking Kruger in your class?"

She replied, "To show how the protagonist, Nancy, survives until the end of the film by remaining androgynous and not portraying typical gender roles. The girly girl died first."

Oh, okay. That makes sense. I mean, there aren't lots of other ways to show girl power and ideas of feminism other than Nightmare on Elm Street, or anything.

For the record, my teacher isn't crazy and demented. I was certainly cursing her on Friday night, but she's actually pretty cool, very smart and funny. I just think she should take into consideration, when compiling her syllabus, that some of us actually HATE horror movies.

Some people have been sympathetic to my plight, whereas others have cocked their eyebrows and scathingly said, "But it's not real. You big baby." No, it's not real, but my subconscious doesn't know that. Jerks.

So, the moral of this blog post: if you haven't seen Nightmare on Elm Street, don't.

Everyone have a happy, magical, non-disturbing day!

she's alive!

I'm sorry I've been so M.I.A., guys. I have lots of things to talk about now that I'm back from my midterm-induced blogging hiatus. But first, "Reflection" part three. Hope you like it!

“No, Lindsay, stop.” She held up one hand. “I’m not sleeping with Devin! How could you even think that?”

“What else am I supposed to think? You go off with this guy and I’m supposed to think you were sitting around watching Disney movies?”

She smiled. “We did watch The Lion King.”

I stared at her. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m trying to explain! Devin’s just a friend. See, what happened was—um, Logan’s being deployed next year.” She said this very fast, and bit her lip. Her words hung in the air.

I felt my mouth drop open. “Deployed? When did you find out? How long? Where?”

“I found out last night. He’s going to Afghanistan…Army deployments there are usually about fifteen months…” She took several deep breaths and I could tell she was trying not to bawl. “So Devin’s been helping me deal with it, kind of. He slept on the floor,” she added quickly. “He’s just easy to talk to. It’s a distraction.”

I sat in the dark, trying to process what she’d just told me. Ainsley’s boyfriend was being deployed. I’d never been Logan’s biggest fan, but he was nice enough, and – damn, he could die over there. This was serious.

“So why didn’t you tell me?” I blurted out, and felt my face flush. There. I said it. It sounded incredibly childish, kind of like when your best friend in kindergarten gets a new best friend, and you feel left out. “I mean, I could’ve helped you deal with it.”

Ainsley just looked at me. “You spend every moment in my presence nagging at me. And when you’re not nagging, I can see the scowl on your face. I get the hint, Lindsay. I’m not Ms. Perfect. But do you really think I want to confide in someone who’s always criticizing me?” Her voice rose in pitch, and the tears started coming for real this time. “You’re always judging me. I just needed someone to listen.”

I stared straight ahead at Devin’s nice, blue house as Ainsley cried. She cried for what seemd like hours, and I just sat there. Finally, I turned slowly to her. “Ains?” She enveloped me in one of her massive bear hugs, and suddenly I was crying, too. We sat holding each other, snotty hiccupy messes in that cold November darkness, and it was like we were two little girls again, comforting each other after a bad day of being bullied on the playground. Suddenly, I had my sister back. I pulled back from her and saw myself in those brown eyes. She smiled slightly.

“You know, I really missed you,” I blurted out, then realized she’d said the exact same thing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

"reflection" parte dos

Here you go, the next section of my little story. Hope you like it! I get my critiques back tomorrow in class, so please pray for me...

Insomnia attacked me that night, preventing me from getting comfortable or finding peace from my own thoughts. Finally, thankfully, I fell asleep. It seemed like only minutes later my mom was shaking me awake. I squinted into her face lined with worry. “What is it, mom?”

“It’s your sister,” my mom whispered harshly. “She’s not home. She’s not answering her phone. I called Sierra’s house and her parents said they haven’t seen anything of Ainsley all day!”
I closed my eyes and groaned. Now it would be a grounding for both of us. God, I was ready to kill her. “What time is it?”

“Almost midnight!”

I sat up and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. “I think she’s with some guy named Devin.”

My mother covered her mouth in horror. “Devin? Who’s that? Are you telling me you lied directly to my face earlier? Lindsay, how could you be so irresponsible?” Her words stung, and a part of me boiled up in protest. Me, irresponsible? Ainsley managed to total her car six months after getting it and mine didn’t have a scratch, but I was the irresponsible one? Ainsley runs around with all the boys and forgets about her homework, but I was the irresponsible one?

She continued, “Get up. Put a bathrobe on. Do you know where this boy lives? Drive to his house. Don’t you come home without her.” I could have said a lot of things. I should have ranted against the injustice of it all. But I was so tired from being woken in the middle of the night, and so tired of my sister’s crap, that I put on my bathrobe and trudged to my car without another word. I didn’t know this kid Devin very well, but I remembered that there’d been a party at his house last year. He lived on Kirtley Drive, which thankfully was only about ten minutes away. I cruised slowly down the street, squinting at the houses to see if I recognized them. I noticed a blue two-story with a green Toyota 4Runner parked in front, and I remembered seeing that car at school a lot. I shrugged to myself and pulled in.

Standing in their driveway, I suddenly wasn’t so sure of myself. What was I thinking, coming here in the middle of the night? What if they had a mean dog, and I got attacked, or something? I creeped timidly toward the front door and reached shaking fingers to knock on the door, feeling foolish. His dad answered the door, of course, in his bathrobe. God, she owed me.

“Can I help you, young lady?” His eyebrows were raised halfway to his forehead. I suppose I looked like a lunatic, showing up in my faded pink bathrobe to a stranger’s house. I saw the TV glowing in the background, thank goodness, so at least I hadn’t woken him.

“Yes, sir. Um, does Devin live here?” I asked, twisting the cord of my robe nervously.

“He does. Do you need to speak to him? Come on in.” He held the door open for me, eyebrows still raised.

“Er, thanks. Um?” I looked helplessly around, not remembering my way around his house.

“I’ll get him for you.” I nodded, thankful. He disappeared down the hallway and appeared a few minutes later, looking more disgruntled than ever, his son in tow.

“There appears to be another young lady keeping him company in there,” he huffed, and my heart dropped. What was she thinking, spending the night at Devin’s when she was perfectly attached to Logan? “This is turning out to be an interesting night.” Devin’s father turned and shuffled into what I assumed to be the kitchen.

“Hi, Lindsay,” Devin said awkwardly, shoving his black-framed glasses further up the bridge of his nose. “Are you looking for Ainsley?” I nodded crossly. No, I thought irritably as I followed him to his room, I’m here to sell you chocolates. In my bathrobe. At 12:20 in the morning.
“Well, there she is.” He gestured inside his room. Ainsley was fast asleep on a bed in the middle of the room, and I dimly registered some blankets and a pillow on the floor at the foot of the bed. I marched to the side and shook her awake.

“What?” She asked, and her sleepy voice reverberated around the room. I winced.

“We’re both going to be grounded, that’s what. Come on.” I pulled on her arm, trying to wake her up.

“Oh. Crap.” She looked at Devin, who looked shy and embarrassed from the doorway. “Sorry, Devin. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“That’s okay,” he said helplessly, moving out of the way as we walked toward the front room. “Ainsley? Feel better, okay?” She nodded at him.

“Bye, Devin.” I walked out of his house feeling incredibly foolish. I waited until we were safely in my car before blurting out, “Do you know what hell we’re going to face when we get home? And all for a one-night stand with some guy?”

Cliffhanger! Haha. Anyway, you'll get the last bit tomorrow.

In the meantime, have a magical Monday night!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

the big reveal

As some of you may know, I'm taking a creative writing class this semester, and on Thursday I turned in my first short story, to be read and critiqued by my classmates over the weekend. Gulp. If 20 strangers are reading it, possibly right now, I see no reason why people with whom I choose to associate can't also read it as well.

There is a back story to it, but that's for another day. It's called "Reflection," and I don't actually like the title, but that's the best I could do at 2 am Thursday morning. Here's the first part, and I hope you like it. (Go easy on me...I hadn't written anything creative in months.)

“Remember, projects are due this Friday,” Ms. Niblett called over the din of papers being shuffled and doors slamming as the bell rang. I stuffed my binder into my backpack and headed out of the classroom, making a brief stop to my locker before stepping out into the chilly November air.

I walked to my car, a 2000 Ford Taurus, and took my time unlocking the car and plopping my things on the backseat. I knew from experience that Ainsley would be late, ostensibly from talking to a teacher about upcoming assignments but really from chatting it up with her “friend,” Devin. I settled myself in the driver’s seat and watched my classmates stream by, getting into their own cars and zooming away, or milling around under the oak for soccer practice.
I checked my watch. 3:10. I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel, trying to shrug off my biting impatience. At 3:20 I pulled away, spinning my tires rather harder than necessary in my frustration. My phone rang at 3:25.


“Lin!” Ainsley’s voice was breathless on the other end. “Sorry, girl, I forgot to text you that I’m going to Devin’s today.”

Of course. I frowned and turned neatly into our driveway. “You text.” My voice sounded clipped, even to me.

“Oh, Lindsay. You sound like Mom. Lighten up, okay? Or that black hair will be sproutin’ grays pretty soon!” Click. Thoroughly irritated now, I lugged my stuff out of the backseat and stomped up the driveway.

My mom looked up as I swung open the door. “Hi, honey. Have a good day? Where’s Ainsley?” She bustled about the kitchen as she talked.

I’d already started walking down the hall to my room. “It was okay. Just another Wednesday. Ainsley’s with a friend,” I called over my shoulder. I flopped down on my bed and resisted the urge to yell into a pillow.

Listening to me rant, you’d think I was talking about my fourteen-year-old freshman of a sister, but Carmindy’s more like me. Responsible. Dance team and volleyball in the spring, and impeccable grades on top of that. She adjusted to high school better than I had, and I was proud of her. No, the sister driving me insane would be my twin, Ainsley. Older by two minutes, to be technical. We’re both juniors, sixteen, but sometimes I feel like she’s going on six. And the boys she’s always with! Last year it was Alek, the artsy kid from her theatre class. Then things got serious with Logan, the guy she’s been on-and-off with since our freshman year. He’s in the army now, and I bet he doesn’t have a clue who Devin is.

I sat up and looked at the mirror across from my bed. Black hair tumbled across my shoulders, blue eyes stared back at me. Though we’re twins, we couldn’t look less alike. Ainsley has brown curls and brown eyes. My skin is milky, while hers is freckled all over and tans easily in summer. I’m built like Marilyn Monroe, and she’s built more like Audrey Hepburn. At family reunions, great-aunts always come up to me and say things like, “My, Lindsay! What a beautiful young lady you’ve grown up to be! And that skin – Scarlett O’Hara would be jealous!” But what they don’t know is the boys like tans. And little bitsy teeny weeny bikini bodies. And brown eyes, apparently.

I turned my back on my reflection and started digging in my background for my history book; that project wasn’t going to finish itself. I tried to put my sister out of my mind and concentrated on the Civil War instead. I worked until I heard Melinda dropping Carmindy off after dance practice, then continued working until the light outside started to fade. Finally mom called us to dinner.

We ate at seven sharp every night, because my dad got in at 6:30. Carmindy was usually showered by then, and the dining room was filled with her chattering voice until we bowed our heads for the blessing. My dad picked up his steak knife and glanced at the empty chair to my left. “Where’s Ainsley?”

“Lindsay said she was with a friend,” my mother answered, buttering her potato. “Which friend did you say it was, dear?” She turned to me.

I didn’t look up from my steak. More than likely, they’d freak out if I told them the truth. They don’t like Ainsley being with Logan because he’s a few years older, but they certainly wouldn’t like her being with some guy they don’t know. I’m sure they’d like to think Ainsley’s a fragile doll who needs her virtue protected, but oh, if they only knew the truth.

“She’s with Sierra,” I lied, buttering my potato to give my hands something to do. “History project due Friday.” Mom and dad beamed at each other across the table, and I looked down at my plate, gripping my steak knife. You owe me, I thought viciously.

I helped Carmindy with the dishes and headed back to finish the project. I just had to proofread my essay, and I was done. It isn’t that often I actually have free time, so I turned on my TV and flipped through the channels. There wasn’t much on, so I settled on a rerun of Boy Meets World. It was the episode where Shawn tries to win Angela’s military dad’s approval. I sat there, savoring the feeling of having nothing to do, until thoughts of Ainsley starting creeping back in my mind. I thought idly back to middle school, when she wasn’t the most popular with the guys – or the most unpopular with the girls, for that matter. We shared bunk beds back then in our old house, and we giggled late into the night, talking. We were like those twins you see in movies who can finish each others' sentences. I hurriedly clicked off the TV and sat in the dark. Suddenly I realized that I was on the verge of tears. I jumped up and started cleaning my room, sorting out piles of laundry and folding clean clothes just to stay busy. I had no choice but to go to bed early. It was either that or dwell uselessly on the past, because let’s face it – my sister was a different person back then.

That's the first couple of pages. There are eight in total. Let me know what you think! I like constructive criticism.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and is enjoying their Sunday evening; don't forget to tune into at 7pm tonight for the live Be Our Guest Podcast broadcast! (Just because I can't doesn't mean you can't.) :)

Have a magical week, everybody.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

i like days like today.

It's 5:04. I get off in less than an hour, and I'm just sitting here enjoying a lazy Saturday at work. I usually take my coffee black, but today I decided to be adventurous and go for a shot of French Vanilla. Mmmm.

It really is the little things that make life so wonderful. I like working with my friend Molly, especially when the boys aren't here. I love the boys...but sometimes I just like my estrogen unpolluted.

I like reading my friend Michelle Sanders's blog and being inspired by the amazing things she makes with her hands, like the necklace I gave my mama for Christmas.

I like going on dates with my boyfriend, even if it's just dinner and a movie. It's so lovely having him in Baton Rouge these days.

I like bonding with my Disney friends about non-Disney things on Twitter, like musicals, hideous pants, and wedding dresses. I like listening to Magical Mouse Radio and remembering crying for 20 minutes after leaving the Magic Kingdom.

I like driving out of the way just to get Taco Bell because I'm craving it, then pretending it's from Pecos Bill.

I like getting messages from old teachers that I really loved in high school, especially when they make me tear up.

I like my sometimes average, often random, usually great life.

Everyone have a magical Saturday!

Friday, February 19, 2010

will you try?

A lot of people in the Disney community are lucky enough to share their passion with their significant other. However, a lot of us can't really share our obsession with our loved one, because sometimes they don't "get it." For those who don't always understand us, this is a song from Disney Mania 4, by Jesse McCartney. It's called "I'll Try."

I am not a child now
I can take care of myself
I mustn't let them down now
Mustn't let them see me cry
I'm fine, I'm fine

I'm too tired to listen
I'm too old to believe
All these childish stories
There is no such thing as faith
And trust and pixie dust

I try
But it's so hard to believe
I try
But I can't see what you see
I try, I try, I try...

My whole world is changing
I don't know where to turn
I can't leave you waiting
But I can't stay and watch this city burn
Watch it burn

'Cause I try
But it's so hard to believe
I try
But I can't see where you see
I try, I try

I try and try to understand
The distance in between
The love I feel and the things I fear
And every single dream

I can finally see it
Now I have to believe
All those precious stories
All the world is made of...
Faith, and trust... and pixie dust

So, I'll try
Because I finally believe
I'll try, 'cause I can see what you see

I'll try, I'll try
I'll try...
To fly

Have a magical weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

bet you never thought i'd do this.

I'm doing something a little different for Lent this year. I'm still giving up the usual sweets, but I'm adding to that. Lent is about giving up what hurts the most, what you've become dependent upon...for me, that would be Disney trip planning. I'm not talking about REAL trip-planning, when I have a destination in mind and I'm sorting out actual plans for that; I'm talking about uselessly poring over forums and sites to read others' trip reports and dining reviews. For most people, this might sound ridiculous and extreme. But if you know me, you're probably not surprised.

I wake up every morning and check for the latest Walt Disney World news. I get Google alerts on Bob Iger, the company's CEO. I frequent to see what Debbie's got different up there, such as updates menus for different restaurants. I check the DISboards and the Be Our Guest Podcast forums at least once a week. I check blogs such as,, and my friend Rikki's blog, "A Disney World After All," nearly every day. I stalk Disney's official website and drool over pictures of various restaurants and resorts when I'm bored at work. Not to mention the countless podcasts I listen to every day in the car on the way to school and work.

I need an intervention. This is taking up too much time in my life...I used to read books at work, and now I read Disney blogs. Which is fine, to a certain extent...but not for 8 hours straight. So, to remedy this, I'm giving it up for Lent.

Because we are in the process of planning a tentative trip to the World this summer, I will still allow myself communication with the folks at The Magic for Less Travel. I will still allow myself to access certain parts of WDW's official site to book ADRs, etc. I will still allow myself to listen to Magical Mouse Radio and my Disney playlist, because they keep me sane when I'm having a bad day. But as for everything else...see you in six weeks.

I'm pretty nervous about this. I'm not gonna know what to do with myself. Maybe I can learn to use this time more wisely, like reading the Scriptures more. Maybe I can learn to rely more on God and less on a company that controls a theme park (well, they control more than a theme park, but you get my point).

I know I'll miss all my Disney time, but I think it's time I joined the real least for a little while.

Everyone have a magical day, and a happy Mardi Gras!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

my blog has a sister.

Hello! Just to let everyone know, I started a new blog dedicated entirely to food, chronicling my adventures in the kitchen. Oh, the possibilities. There will be plenty of Disney-inspired cuisine to come, I promise. Check her out at

"Be My Guest" will not replace "Searching For My Neverland," though, so keep reading. :)

Have a magical day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

"and with every shot we take, we're making memories!"

Good morning! It's snowing outside, so I'm daydreaming of Florida...of course. Here's my post on my favorite Epcot photo ops!

It wouldn't be a trip to Epcot without a photo of Spaceship Earth. (And that is what it's called. Not "the big golf ball." Ack.) I like the back view from World Showcase, because then you get the lovely Fountain of Nations in as well!

If you hang around Spaceship Earth for a bit, you might see some of your favorite Disney characters!

There are all kinds of interesting attractions in Epcot that you've probably never seen before, like the jumping fountains in the Imagination courtyard.

There's a cool little place in Future World where you can sample various sodas from around the world...called Club Cool! Some drinks are tasty...but there's one little monster that's particularly sick.nast.

After exiting Test Track, you'll walk into a room showcasing various cars. After all, the attraction is sponsored by General Motors. Check out this crazy thing!

World Showcase is a Disney scrapbook heaven, because there are so many cute photo opportunities! Put on a sombrero in Mexico, hide behing a Venetian mask in Italy, or chat it up in a UK phone booth.

Canada, my favorite pavilion, has a beautiful reproduction of Niagara Falls. Think about how romantic this backdrop would be if you're taking a honeymoon trip!

Disney really nailed the Parisian air of the France pavilion.

France is my favorite place for meet-and-greets. Sometimes you'll see Aurora, other times Bella and the Beast...we got the lovely Marie Cat!

There you go! There are so many quirky thing to see and get a shot of, from the topiaries near the Land pavilion to the authentic Norwegian school bread at the bakery there. Don't forget to get some video of IllumiNations!

Thanks for reading and have a magical day!