Tag Archives: Harry Potter

7 Quick Takes on Harry Potter, the Relationship Status Retreat, and Our Broken Water Heater

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Our water heater died last Saturday. I have not been home for the last several plumber visits, so I didn’t know until I was chatting with my roommate yesterday that the old one was apparently so old that plumbers routinely expressed surprise that it was still working at all. That would have been nice to know. This is our second appliance replacement this year. Our landlord has always been very quick to fix things. I guess he likes us.

I learned several other things this week. I now have hard evidence that I do not like cold showers. I suffered through bathing and washing my hair in the cold water on Sunday morning and attempting to feel clean at all before work on Monday, but then I gave up. I was able to shower at my friend’s condo every night until yesterday, when the water heater was finally replaced. Thursday night was the time in four days that I did not look at my computer clock and think, “Nine o’clock. Time to drive so I can take a shower.” I don’t think I can find an appropriate expression of gratitude for my feelings about having any backup at all.

I also discovered firsthand that, when one of your basic needs is not being met or becomes suddenly much more difficult to meet, everything else gets significantly worse. All I wanted to do was take a hot shower at home. I did not want to have to carve an extra hour out of my already-precious evenings in order to bathe. It was all I could do not to complain about it every day at work. (My cube neighbors complain all the time.) My poor friends and Mr. Man got the brunt of it.

Finally, I now know that living without hot water is not nearly as bad as living without water. I’ve had spurts of that before. It was much worse. Thanks be to God for water, water heaters, and the end of this challenge.

— 2 —

I am sure that everyone else at the day retreat I went to on Saturday was glad that I’d had a hot shower that morning. The retreat was titled “Relationship Status.” Its logo was this cute and #realtalk image:

Relationship Status: It's Complicated

It was not quite what I expected, but it was absolutely worth going. The location actually helped a lot: it felt like I was actually retreating because I had to drive relatively far to get there. The two young women who organized the retreat each gave talks followed by small group discussion. We had Mass, with an excellent homily. After lunch, the keynote speakers shared their very complicated marriage story and their experiences of marriage. They were each married previously, and I thought they could have put more emphasis on their convalidation (although they did mention it), but my takeaway was how much joy they have now. I genuinely felt like I was experiencing Christ through them.

I have plenty left to unpack from the retreat (metaphorically). I am so glad such a thing was organized and successfully held. I think Pope Francis—and everyone else who wants to see improvement in marriage and the family in the Church—would have liked it, too.

— 3 —

More Twitter love this week!

Scott Stanley favorited me on Twitter!

Dr. Scott Stanley writes an excellent blog about his research into marital success and marriage quality. I try to keep his advice in mind as I make my way, God willing, toward the altar. He even shared his advice directly with me and Beth Anne.

— 4 —

It seems like every big-time blogger (or even the small-time ones that want to be big-time) has a e-book and an e-newsletter these days. I do not like that. A blogger’s “e-book” is usually just a PDF with a compilation of blog posts. Is there that big a desire for repackaging? Am I underestimating the draw of e-books? If I want out-of-browser portability, I can make my own PDFs with PrintFriendly. For my guest posts and my writing at ATX Catholic, I do!

You usually have to trade your email address for the e-book, which often subscribes you to an e-newsletter automatically. I also dislike that. Maybe I don’t want the newsletter. If there’s not exclusive content, why would I want to get yet another email to process?

That said, I realized this week that, if I wanted to start an e-newsletter, Recommended Reads would be a decent content stream for it.

— 5 —

“Frameworks foster freedom.” Mike Vardy said that in a Blab he recorded and released as a podcast episode recently. I might never have heard anything from any productivityist I agree with more.

— 6 —

I love when my favorites collide. This time, the Most Interesting Man in the World meme meets one of my top five 80’s songs:

I don't always leave my friends behind, but when I do it's because my friends don't dance, and if they don't dance, well, they're no friends of mine.

— 7 —

NEW HARRY POTTER! Technically, there has been new writing from J.K. Rowling since the old version of Pottermore was still around, and she’s been posting even more on the new Pottermore, and she co-wrote the script book for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that’s coming out at the end of this month.

But still. Reading the story of Ilvermorny’s founding made my inner child giddy. I was pulled in just as I was then. I am impressed that she wrote such a full, compelling story and made it so short! Oh, my heart is happy.


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Event-Filled Weeks and Jeopardy!

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

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I am about halfway through another big swing of events. I had a couple of Skype and phone dates filling up my weeknights. I was up early and out until mid-afternoon yesterday, then I did chores until I went back out again. An old friend came into town this weekend, so a group met up for dinner after church. This coming week, I will have another friend date, stop by the summer church history study at my parish, go to a work social event, and make a day-long retreat. All of this activity is crazy, but it is a blessing to have so many friends and to not be bored!

— 2 —

I was up early on Saturday for the saddest reason. Some dear friends of mine lost their son to stillbirth last week. They buried him this weekend. It was the most beautiful and terrible experience. It was beautiful because the Mass is always beautiful (heaven touches Earth!) and because it was at the same church where they were married about a year and a half ago. The church was about as full both times, which is a testament to the community they have built. It was terrible because the death of a child is always terrible. I could only express my sorrow and assure them of my prayers.

— 3 —

I’m still working through my Life Plan. It’s supposed to be a living document, so I’m doing my best to keep it fresh without giving in to my tendency to revise endlessly. I came across a quotation that I hope will help me focus my efforts:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” —Peter Drucker

— 4 —

Also a Church Word: It's defined as a coherent, typically large body of matter with no definite shape. What is matter?

J!6 has so many Lindsay-friendly clues! As I said before, I am hoping that some of these kinds of clues actually make it to the show if I, too, make it to the show.

— 5 —

Whose What?: Dumbledore's Army is a fictional organization that held meetings in this school. What is Hogwarts?

Seriously.

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International Days of the Week: Of dies mercurii, dies solis, or dies martis, it's Wednesday in Latin. What is dies mercurii?

Mr. Man works with Latin, so I was especially proud to share that one with him. I only know church Latin and what I can make out from my knowledge of Spanish. For this clue, I used the latter.

— 7 —

Mr. Man himself sent me this one, perhaps suggesting that this would be a worthy pastime if I become independently wealthy:

If you watch Jeopardy! backwards, it's a show about rich people paying money for answers to questions.


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes That Are Actually Quick This Time

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My long-term attempt to establish a bedtime has been going much better than usual over the past few weeks. I’m behind on my blog reading, but I found myself at Jen Fulwiler’s rebranded site recently reading an old post about how to survive burnout. (Thanks for the link in your Monday Musings a few weeks ago, Kim; I needed that.) Her first recommendation was to get more sleep. Message heard; life changes begrudgingly made.

— 2 —

I watched a Theology-on-Tap style presentation that Bobby and Jackie Angel gave a few weeks ago in New York City. It’s about a Catholic vision of dating, and it’s worth a watch if you’ve got some time. There are some gems in there. The best was a (parody) Catholic pick-up line dropped by Jackie:

I would say “God bless you,” but clearly, he already has.

— 3 —

My office wi-fi password has been the same since I started working for the company two years ago. It ends in a string of letters. I always thought they were random, or maybe based on someone’s name who is no longer with the company. One of the superintendents came into the office and asked me for the password, and he instantly connected those “random” letters with a phrase that totally makes sense. Never underestimate construction guys, and never overestimate yourself: lesson learned.

— 4 —

After my explanation of how finding the beat is critical to learning to dance and linking to a simple video teaching the same, my dance teacher gave a very quick lesson in doing that exact thing. It happened last week and with such uncanny timing that he might have been reading my blog! (He could be; I guess. It’s public. That’s my name and picture in the sidebar.)

It’s more likely that he just noticed how incredibly off the beat some of us were and knew he needed to fix it ASAP. But what’s life without a tiny bit of feeling like you’re being watched? Being watched in class worked out for me, because my teacher complimented me when I randomly helped him demonstrate the pattern from two weeks ago, and that ultimately led to this milestone:

Just got promoted to Level 3, thanks in part to these puppies! #shoes #dance #westcoastswing #winning

A post shared by Lindsay Wilcox (@whatlindsayloves) on

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Grammar news is not terribly frequent, so I don’t post about it here as much as I think about it in my day-to-day. I greatly enjoyed reading Neal Whitman’s essay, read by Grammar Girl on her podcast, about why English words have silent letters. That’s more of a pronunciation, linguistic, and spelling issue than a grammar one, but it’s just as fascinating. My standard explanation is that funky silent letters are found in non-English words that we have “borrowed” into English. We’re never giving them back, but we’ll “borrow” the extra letters just the same. We just won’t pronounce them. So there!

— 6 —

Continuing on my theme of “favorite topics I don’t actually blog about very often,” I stumbled across this amazing sheet of J.K. Rowling’s plot outline for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix via the Goodreads blog. It’s incredible!

I don’t care much about plotting vs. pantsing. Whatever she did worked out swimmingly. What sticks out to me are two of the column headings. The original poster seems to have missed it, but it looks like Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix were originally reversed! Read the columns. The things that are listed as happening to the “O of P” happen to Dumbledore’s Army in the published novel, and vice versa. I support the switch. I’m less supportive of changing Umbridge’s first name from “Elvira.” That is a much less likeable name than” Dolores.”

— 7 —

In case you missed it, I posted a reflection on some marriage advice for singles to Austin CNM last week. Even if you disagree with his conclusions, there’s some useful food for thought. Single people need marriage advice, too!


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Booking Through Thursday: Travel

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Do you like to read books about far-away places? Travel guides, memoirs? Places you’ve been or places you’ve never been?

Do semi-fictional places count? I read mostly YA fiction and Catholic nonfiction, so most of my books are about this world or very similar ones in the near future. (Gotta love dystopias.) Harry Potter and The Hunger Games are both set in what I like to call parallel worlds: they would be in this world, but something is different, or something has gone terribly wrong. Wizarding Britain is pretty far from Austin, Texas geographically, but it’s not completely foreign in terms of experience.

The only kinds of memoir I read are spiritual memoirs, so they’re less about physical travel and more about interior journeys. Then again, I glanced at the reader’s guide in the back of UnSouled and realized that it takes place all over the U.S. I hadn’t noticed that, but those kids sure do get around.

The most memorable experience I have reading about a real-life place is from Pierced by a Sword. (I’m not a fan of that book’s portrayal of LDS/Mormons, and I’ve heard some disappointing things about Bud Macfarlane Jr. himself, but I did read it.) There are several scenes set at Notre Dame, particularly in the Grotto. I read the book in high school, but I never set foot on campus until right before I started grad school there. Based on the description, I expected the Grotto to be a lot bigger! It is a beautiful place, but once you’ve been to a couple of medieval cathedrals, “big” is a relative term.

For me, reading is less about traveling to new places through the pages and more about journeying through new minds. Literature teaches us what it means to be human; location doesn’t matter.


For more short queries about books and the reading life, visit Booking Through Thursday.

7 Quick Takes on Lent, Harry Potter, and Tiny Humans

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— 1 —

Prepare yourself. Lent is coming.

The hip thing to do this year is to remind everyone that Lent is coming. Now I’ve memed it, so it’s extra cool.

Check your Mass times now. Remember that Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, although it is good to go to Mass that day. (I like to call it a holy day of non-obligation. Also try to figure out how many daily reflection emails you signed up for and pare them down. (That last one might be a reminder just for me.)

My Ash Wednesday pet peeve: if you want ashes, get them in Mass, and do not leave early. Then you have to repent for leaving early. That’s not a good way to start the season. You’re supposed to repent of the sins you already committed, not work on new ones.

— 2 —

I have found it extremely helpful over these many years observing Lent to treat it less like a marathon and more like a restart to ordinary (or New Year’s) resolutions. Lent is not supposed to be an epic quest to sustain one sacrifice “from ashes to Easter.” It’s okay if you fail along the way or even change what you’re doing. Just don’t give up.

Thus, I suggest you test out your Lenten fasting, almsgiving, and/or prayer early. Today’s a good day. If you’re going to pray the Morning Offering every day, pray it right now. It might not be morning as you read this, but ever is better than never. By Wednesday, you’ll be well on your way to making it a habit to be practiced during Lent and for life… or you will have chosen something different.

Kendra’s post is the best I’ve ever seen for Lenten sacrifice suggestions. There has to be something on that list you can actually do and should probably be doing anyway. (The thought of leaving dirty dishes out overnight makes me shudder. Get flies once and you’ll never do it again.) Become a better person during Lent.

Get holy or die tryin'.

Word.
(Button and other items available from CatholicToTheMax.com.

— 3 —

So what am I doing for Lent? I’m not telling. I’ve been working on it for a long time, though, and I am tired of taking it to Confession, so this is it.

Additional pet peeve: When did it become cool to say, “Actually, instead of giving up something, you should take up something,” with a snooty voice and everything? This is a faith of both/and. You are not less holy if you give up chocolate. If you want to give up chocolate, do it, and don’t let anyone make you feel like it’s not good enough. Something is always better than nothing.

If you feel like giving up chocolate is not good enough, then pick something more challenging. But don’t be bullied into it.

— 4 —

I think it was actually that 66 Outside-the-Box Lenten Sacrifices post that made me realize I should probably be reading Kendra’s blog regularly. I admire the ladies of the Catholic blogosphere who can keep it real, preach the Truth, and be effortlessly humorous.

So I saw her Harry Potter post. Yes, please! I knew she was a fan, as are her oldest two kids, and I’m pretty sure she’s written a Harry Potter apologia before, but I think her recent post about why Catholics and other Christians can still love Harry Potter despite all the magic is marvelous.

Key points:

  • Yes, evil is real. So is Satan. We should avoid evil and Satan. The books have no references to Satan or the devil at all, and they come down pretty heavily against evil and in favor of good.
  • Everyone who has magical powers in Harry Potter was born that way. No one can get those powers if they don’t already have them. Nobody makes a deal with the devil, worships him, or calls upon him in order to do magic.
  • Catholicism condemns magic specifically for its ability to convince people to follow false gods or invoke powers from an unidentified source. Harry & Co. don’t seem to have any gods or religion at all.
  • J.K. Rowling is a Christian (Presbyterian, specifically) and has said she intended every Christian reference and theme in the books. They’re impossible to miss.

I think her defense is spot-on. Christians love supernatural powers—the ones that come from God (e.g. answers to prayer, miraculous healings, raising the dead, and salvation). Not everything supernatural is bad. Kendra did a great job partly because she’s a great writer but also because “all magic is evil, thus Harry Potter is evil” is a specific topic to discuss. She paid attention on Thesis Statement Day in English class; I can tell.

— 5 —

I got to hold three babies on Sunday. It was glorious! Here is a photo of me with Joseph. I am looking at the camera enough for both of us.

babyphotobombwithJoseph

So much cuddling. I also have enough joy for both of us.

I got baby photobombed by the other two tiny humans. Kat is on the right, and the very top of Lily’s head is on the left.

— 6 —

I think I might have seen an improv show when I was in college. I was definitely into seeing a cappella groups. Regardless of whether it was my first improv show ever, I went to see my friend Katie’s current show on Saturday at the Hideout Theatre. It’s called Wanderlust, so every show is about travel. She was one of the featured performers in the story of old college buddies road-tripping from the Midwest to Disney World. I was impressed with their ability to build the story as they went and to portray so many emotions.

If you’re in town, I recommend it. Katie won’t be featured anymore, but the show runs through February.

— 7 —

I also went to confession on Saturday. I only had to wait about 30 minutes instead of the usual hour. Small victories!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

I Pick My Own Required Reading

Booking Through Thursday seems to be having a bit of a hiccup these past few weeks, but Thursday is always about books here at Lindsay Loves, so a bookish post you shall receive.

This month’s NaBloPoMo is full of prompts about habits. There are some gems there. Coincidentally, last Thursday’s prompt was about books.

If you had to read the same book year after year after year, what would it be?

One of the reasons I struggle with some of the BTT prompts is that they ask for your favorite book about X or your favorite X genre of book. My favorites cluster heavily around YA dystopia and Catholicism/Christianity, so I have to write about the same books all the time. If not for my Goodreads account, I might not even realize how narrow my book choices have become since I started reviewing at Austin CNM (and since I finished school, where a semester’s worth of reading is always on a single theme). This prompt is delightfully open-ended.

I’m going to turn the requirement into an opportunity, though. Going through my “off-site shelf” made me realize how much I’ve missed fantasy. Most of the books I saved from Goodwill were fantasy novels. My mom gave me a Harry Potter calendar for Christmas this year. I hung it above my desk at work, so I get a reminder of my Harry Potter love five days a week. And since I finally finished watching my way through Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Hulu, I switched to Merlin, so I get to see magic and knights and such all the time. I forgot how much I love fantasy.

My erudite side wants to say that I’d read To Kill a Mockingbird every year if I could, because meditating on the human spirit like that is good for everyone. (If you’re only going to write one book, it had better be an incredible one.) My Catholic side clearly wants to say it would be the Bible, but I have yet to make it through after eight solid years now. All the way every year is a ridiculous goal to set for myself.

But my book-loving heart says Harry Potter. It has been far too long since I have made my way through the series. Life as a cord-cutter deprives me even of Harry Potter weekends on ABC Family. I miss Harry Potter, and I want those stories back in my life, so if I had to re-read something every year, it would be all seven books, in order, in a row. It wouldn’t be an obligation, though. It would be a joyous opportunity.

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Booking Through Thursday: Fanfiction

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Best topic ever!

What do you think of fanfiction? In general, do you think it’s a fun thing or a trespass on an author/producer’s world? Of course, obviously specific authors have very firm and very differing opinions about this, yet it’s getting more popular and more mainstream all the time. Do you ever read or write it yourself?

I used to be really into Harry Potter fanfiction. Those of you who have only known my adult self might be surprised by that, but probably not that it’s Harry Potter. There’s no such thing as grammar fanfiction. (Grammar fiction, yes.)

I still remember the night I really fell into fanfiction. I had written some in middle school without knowing what it was, but in my junior year of high school, I stumbled through the Internet to FictionAlley Park, to Schnoogle, and started reading Draco Dormiens. It was all over then.

After devouring my first novel-length fanfiction, I zipped over to the message boards and became a Ron/Hermione shipper. This was between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, so we were going crazy waiting to see what would happen after that fight post-Yule Ball. (We called it the Yule Brawl.) Eventually, I took over the ship website. It got real.

By the time the last book was released, I was in college and had long decided my time was better spent away from message boards and fanfiction and more on trying to graduate. The momentum slowed down to a trickle. The moment was over.

But, man, am I glad I was there at the heart of it.

Technically, what we did (using the word “we” very loosely) was illegal. But J.K. Rowling knew about it. She even eventually confessed to looking up factoids in the Harry Potter Lexicon when she couldn’t remember something and didn’t want to bother searching through her own notes. It was great experience with writing (and, for the high-quality stuff, reading), and it formed an incredible international community—around a book!

The books changed our lives, and our action in the fandom changed the author’s. I call that a win-win.

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