Online Communities: Thoughts on Whether Internet Spaces Are Just as Valid as Spaces in Real Life

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We live in an exciting time. Anyone with an internet connection can go on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, SnapChat, Reddit, and other social networks to communicate, not only with people who live near them, but with people from all over the world. Not to mention online forums, blogs, chatrooms, online communities, and good, old-fashioned email. At any given moment, many of us are just a click away from finding someone to talk to or reading a recent status-update. I can go to an online writing community and have people like, comment and give feedback on my work. I can communicate with readers right now through this very blog post.

If we use it the right way, the internet gives us a way to always be a part of a community. Someone who has trouble making friends in real life can turn to the internet to find like-minded people who will appreciate his/her stories, videos, articles, poems, music, jokes, passions, and thoughts. A person who feels like a weirdo for liking something none of their real-life friends like doesn’t have to feel weird at all; because someone, somewhere, is probably blogging about that same topic. A well-known tagline from Apple commercials is that “There’s an app for that.” I would like to take this one step further and say, no matter what you’re into, there’s an online FORUM for that.

In spite of the benefits of communicating online, most people would agree that too much time spent online can be unhealthy. After all, our lives were not meant to be lived on the internet. The internet does not provide us with human touch. It does not allow us to shake hands or give hugs. It doesn’t allow us to see the emotion in someone’s face as he/she speaks (with the exception of videos). It doesn’t allow a bully in, say, the YouTube comments section to see the effect their mean words has on the person on the receiving end. Some can say that the internet does not allow for “real,” honest, human interaction. After all, it allows people to hide behind fake usernames and animated photos.

But I think anyone who has used Tumblr knows that even without seeing someone’s face, a personal blog can say a lot about someone. The content someone shares can lead you to know that this is someone you can be friends with. Sure, there’s always the possibility that people on the internet are not who they say they are. But I think that certain levels of authenticity are difficult to fake. Sometimes, people may find that their internet friends are the only ones who understand them. Or, at the very least, they are the only ones who won’t judge them. To some, that might sound pathetic. But to the high school kid who is bullied, feels like an outcast, and is afraid to be who he/she really is, an online community may be the safe haven that saves his/her life.

The interesting thing about online friendships is that you can communicate with someone, support them, listen to them vent, give/receive advice, and make them smile, even while knowing you’ll probably never actually meet them. Sometimes people do meet in real life. Sometimes it goes well, and sometimes people get Catfished. Sometimes people become real-life friends with their internet friends. And sometimes, they fall in love. People used to have pen pals they sent letters to (maybe some people still do?????), and now, people have pen pals they send internet messages to. The internet opens doors to friendships that would not have otherwise existed.

But what else do online communities lack? While a person can have “friends” on the internet, there are ways that these friends can probably never truly be there for you. They can’t give you a ride to the grocery store or feed your cat while you’re away. They can’t go with you to the movies or try on dresses with you at the department store. They can’t help you prepare dinner for a party or walk you home late at night. They can’t give you a (literal) shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, or a kiss on the cheek.

However, for many people, their internet friends might provide something their real-life “friends” never could. They might listen, understand, and even care more about something bothering them than anyone in real life does. Internet friends may relate more and judge far less. Internet friends may see you express your depression, angst, anxiety, failures, and fears while being highly supportive. Internet friends may see you express your hopes, dreams, and crazy ideas, and lift you up when people in real life may only try to tear you down.

I think, more than once, I’ve heard John Green and Hank Green refer to online communities as “places” (I could be wrong, maybe someone else said it). And this always struck me. Do online communities really count as places? A place is defined as “a portion of space available or designated for or being used by someone.” Since online communities are, in fact, used by many people, I suppose they do count. But if a place, as we traditionally know it, can be found on a map, does the internet have its own map? Is Tumblrland over here, while Facebookland is over there, while Google+land is in the corner, trying to attract more tourists?

What I’m getting at here is that online communities are still communities. They have their own pros and cons, just as communities in real life do. After all, a person can try to socialize and have “real” human contact in the real world, and he/she can still be judged, discriminated against, and shut down. The internet allows us to find communities that might not exist closer to home. When it’s used the right way, the internet can allow us to connect with people who share our same values, and people who won’t judge us for being ourselves. The internet cannot provide us with the kinds of experiences that real life has to offer. However, it can provide us with the friendships, community, and interconnectedness that some people may struggle to find in real life.

So, my thoughts are this: as long as you’re eating healthy, getting enough sleep, drinking water, exercising/getting out, paying your bills, and socializing with real world people at least a little bit, being a part of an online community can be a perfectly healthy thing. After all, for some people, it really is all they have.

#MyThoughts

Healing Discussions: A Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen Story

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Katniss sat with her elbows resting on a cold, metal table. She was in a small room with white walls and a lone, round clock. The seconds ticked by. In her peripheral vision, she could the see a large, rectangular one-way mirror that was built into one of the walls. If she turned her head, she only would have seen her reflection. Still, she could feel the eyes of strangers monitoring her every move. She knew how it felt when she was being watched.

Sitting across from her was a boy. Well, he wasn’t a boy exactly. He was a young man, not much older than her. He had dark hair, green eyes, and pale skin. A kind yet awkward smile curved at his lips, but faded as fast as it appeared. He kept adjusting his glasses. Clearly he was just as nervous as she was. The most striking thing about his appearance was the lightning-bolt shaped scar that rested on his forehead. Katniss didn’t know much about it, but she knew that the scar was significant somehow. He looked down and cleared his throat. The silence lingered.

“So, you’re Harry, right? Harry Potter?” Katniss asked.

“Yes. And you’re Katniss Everdeen?” Harry asked.

“I am.” Harry reached out to shake her hand.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, really.” He said. They shook hands and laughed, loosening up the tension. The gesture was so ordinary in these strange circumstances. Katniss noticed that Harry’s accent was so proper sounding. She remembered being told he was from a place called England.

“So, they tell me you’re a wizard.” She said.

“I am.” She rummaged through a small bag and pulled out a red apple. She placed it on the table and looked at Harry expectantly. He looked at her blankly, wondering if he was supposed to eat it.

“Prove it.” She said.

“With an apple?” He asked. She said nothing, only looked at him with expectant eyes. Her face cracked to reveal a tiny smirk. He shook his head and laughed as though the idea was completely absurd. “Okay, sure. Whatever you want.” He pulled his wand from his jeans pocket, cleared his throat, and pointed it toward the apple. He moved his wand in a swish and flick motion while saying, “Wingardium Leviosa.” The moment the words left his lips, the apple levitated into the air. Katniss watched as it rose and then hovered in the space between them.

She looked at Harry who gave her a look that said, ‘Is that proof enough for you?’ She waved her hand under the apple, over it, and then under it again, trying to make sure it wasn’t just a trick. As far as she could tell, the magic was real. The apple did not seem to be held up by an invisible string. She nodded in approval, but did not express any feelings of giddiness or surprise.

“Not bad.” She said. She grabbed the apple from midair and took a bite, the apple crunching between her teeth. She paused mid-chew as a thought crossed her mind. “That spell or enchantment or whatever doesn’t alter the apple in any way does it? Like eating it won’t make me start floating around or anything, right?”

“No, you’re fine. It’s completely safe.” He said.

“Good.”

“Though, there are spells that can make people float around. I once blew up my aunt when she spoke badly about my parents. I didn’t mean to, but I got so angry. She got real big and floated out of the house and into the sky. I know I should be sorry I did it. But to be honest—“ Harry stopped talking because Katniss was looking at him as though he had three heads. This made him want to mention Fluffy the dog, but he decided it might be too much for a person who never knew about magic before today. She took another bite of her apple. “I’m not.” He finished.

“Did they, I mean, did they get her back?” She asked.

“My aunt? Yeah. The Ministry of Magic took care of it. They got her back safe and sound. And they erased her memory. I thought they were going to send me to prison. But they didn’t, thankfully.”

“Thankfully.” Katniss agreed. If she was weirded out at all about discussing magic, she didn’t show it. She rummaged through her bag again. “I have some more food in here. Do you want anything?”

“Oh, thank you. But no. I’m fine.” Katniss continued to rummage through her bag.

“Take it from someone who spent a long time being hungry,” She started. She pulled out a banana and a small loaf of bread, and placed it on a napkin in front of him. “You’re an idiot to turn down free food.”

“Thankyou.” He said. He pulled the food closer to him, not knowing what else to say. She took another bite of her apple.

“So, what did your parents say after you blew up your aunt in their defense?” She asked.

“My parents are dead.” He said. Those words never became easier to say. But that might have been because Harry didn’t have to explain this to very many people. Most of the people he encountered already knew everything about him.

“Crap. They told me that to me earlier, but I forgot. I’m so sorry.” She reached out to take his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. Harry was surprised by how sweet this gesture was, coming from this girl who seemed so tough and unfazed.

“It’s alright. At least they told you something. To be honest, I’m not even entirely sure what this place is. I came here as a favor to McGonagall, my professor. She said it would be good for me. It’s the story of my life, really. No one ever tells me anything.”

“I can tell you. Well, I can tell you what I know, anyway. Think fast!” She threw her apple core at him and he raised his wand instinctively.

“Immobulus!” He shouted. The apple core froze in mid-air and hovered around the room a bit. “Good thing I had my wand out.”

“I’m sorry. That was mean.” She didn’t sound too sincere. She was giggling, clearly amused.

“No, it’s fine. Really.” He was still trying to catch his breath. She grabbed the floating apple core and tossed it into a metal trashcan. “Please don’t do that again.”

“I won’t. I promise. But I have to say, I’m impressed by your reflexes.” She said.

“I try.” He tore off a piece of bread and nibbled it, trying to calm his nerves.

“Anyway, in all seriousness. This place is the International Trauma Recovery Center. Also known as the I.T.R.C. Their mission is to bring people together who have gone through exceptional traumatic experiences that most people in their lives wouldn’t fully understand. The idea is that if we hear each other’s stories, we’ll feel like there are people who can understand what we’re going through. We’ll feel less alone, and that’s supposed to help us on our ‘path to recovery.” She put air quotes around “path to recovery,” but her tone of voice suggested she didn’t think it was all a joke. Her joking seemed more like a defense mechanism than anything else. “So,” she continued, “what’s your story?”

“Well,” he started. He wasn’t sure how to put it into words. Everyone in the wizarding world knew about Harry. They knew about The Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort, Dumbledore, his scar, Cedric Diggory, the Chamber of Secrets… they even knew about horcruxes and Harry being the Chosen One. Now, sitting before him was someone who wasn’t familiar with any of it. He fought a war that had no effect on her. Just like she fought a war that had no effect on him.

And yet, here they both were, talking, sharing, and listening. “I fought a war against a dark wizard. His name was Voldemort and he killed my parents when I was a baby. That’s how I got this scar. Of course, I wasn’t the only one who fought in this war. I fought alongside my friends, and alongside other brave witches, wizards, and anyone else who was on our side. We lost a few friends along the way. But in the end, we won. And things were peaceful again. We still had a lot of work to do. Hogwarts, our school, needed to be restored to look like new again. But in the end, things worked out. And the fight was over.” He said.

Harry hadn’t even realized he had started crying. But when he met Katniss’s eyes, he realized his cheeks were wet with tears. He wiped his eyes before his glasses could get fogged up. Katniss handed him a tissue.

“I’m sorry. That must have been really hard for you.” She said. She turned her attention to the two-way mirror. “Hey! Nosy people with the clipboards. Can we get some water in here?” A moment later, a hand slipped through the slot in the bottom of the metallic door, leaving behind two bottles of water. Katniss retrieved them, happy to find that they were cold. She handed one to Harry. “Can you believe them? They gave us water through a doggy door. We’re war heroes for crying out loud, and they’re treating us like dogs.” She opened her water and took a sip. Harry did the same. “Sorry. I just thought the cool water would help you feel better. It works for me.”

“No, it did. Thank you.” He said. He wasn’t crying anymore. He looked over at the two-way mirror. “Are they really listening to everything we’re saying?”

“Yeah. This whole I.T.R.C thing is still really new. They want to study it to see if it works. We’re basically test guinea pigs. And I don’t know about you, but that’s the story of my life.” She closed her water and smoothed her long hair. It was styled in a side braid, and its dark color really brought out the blue in her eyes. “Anyway. I am sorry. About the war. I’m sorry for the friends you lost. I know how it feels to lose someone you love. To wish you could have done something to save them.” She said. She thought about Rue. She thought about her father and Prim. She thought about everyone who lost their lives in the Games. She couldn’t believe the government in Panem had been so terrible for so long.

“Would you like to tell me your story?” Harry asked. He looked at her with so much openness and so much innocence in his eyes. She could tell he wasn’t asking out of obligation. He genuinely wanted to understand her.

“Well, there is zero magic in my story. I’m sorry to disappoint.” She started. She took a breath, and then continued. “Basically, I come from a place called Panem. And there was a time, not so long ago, that our government was afraid of its people starting a rebellion. So, as a way of controlling us, they had an annual event known as the Hunger Games. See, we had to enter this lottery. And the more times you put your name in, the more likely it was you would be picked for the Games.

“Long story short, when they came to my district, they chose my little sister, Prim.” She choked when she said her sister’s name. She breathed again and brushed the tears that began to well up in her eyes. She cleared her throat and continued. “Anyway, I volunteered for her. I entered the games in her place, and somehow, from there, it spiraled into a revolution. And I became the face of it. Trust me, I didn’t want that kind of ‘honor.” She used air quotes again. “I didn’t want to be the Mockingjay. I survived the games the first time. And then I survived them a second time. It’s a survival of the fittest type of thing. A bunch of people go in, but only one comes out alive.

“We basically managed to screw with the system. The next thing you knew, we were at war with the capital. We fought, and we lost people. Including my sister. But in the end, we won. The people won. And we changed Panem. And now, there will never be another Hunger Games. And things will be better. Things are better. Panem is better now than I have ever known it to be.” She wiped her eyes again and Harry could tell she was fighting back tears. She refused to let go of control. Harry reached out and took her hand in his.

“I’m sorry. Truly. About the Games, the war, your sister…everything.” He said. She nodded and held both his hands.

“Things aren’t all bad. I have my husband, Peeta. He’s good for me. He understands what I’ve been through because he’s been through it, too. What about you? You have a girl, right?” She asked.

“Yes. Her name is Ginny.” Saying her name, his face lit up, and a smile curved at his lips. “And she understands, too. What I’ve been through. Because she’s been through it, too.

“Are you going to marry her?” Katniss asked, her eyes playful.

“Um…” He said. He was blushing. Katniss’s expression turned serious.

“Because if you can find someone who truly understands what you’ve been through, you should hold onto that. It helps.”

“I think you’re right. And all that aside, I can see myself spending the rest of my life with her. I think I’ve felt that way since the moment I realized I loved her.” He said.

“Excuse me? Harry and Katniss?” A perky woman’s voice said. It came over a loudspeaker. Her voice kind of reminded Katniss of Effie Trinket’s. “Your I.T.R.C session will be over in five minutes.”

“Okay!” Katniss said. The loudspeaker clicked off. “I think they want us to have four of these sessions, since we’re the guinea pigs. But it’s completely voluntary, of course. If we meet again, we don’t have to discuss all of this heavy stuff. You can tell me more about Ginny. And you can show me more of your magic tricks.”

“I can show you some more magic now, if you’d like. Would you like to see my Patronus?” He asked.

“Sure. What’s a Patronus?” She asked. Harry smiled, cleared his throat, and tried to fill himselt up with a happy memory.

#Fiction, stories, writing, fan fiction, fanfics

Mother-Daughter Day: A Luna Lovegood Fanfic

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Young Luna sat in a tiny, wooden chair at a tiny, wooden table. The table was set with porcelain tea cups, small plates, a small tea pot, and cloth napkins. She was joined by a large, brown Teddy bear named Mr. Fluffykins, and a medium-sized, stuffed bunny named Holly Hopper. Luna stared with expectant eyes at a pie tin that rested at the center of the table. It was filled to the brim with chocolate-brown mud, the edges of which were decorated with yellow flower petals. In the center rested a single, beautiful, pearly white seashell.

The seconds ticked by and nothing happened, but Luna did not take her eyes off of the pie tin. Then, the pie began to change. The mud began to bubble as though it were piping hot. The flower petals danced around and the seashell spun like a spinning top. The mud bubbled and changed and solidified until it no longer looked like mud at all. It looked like an actual pie with actual crust, decorated with slits in the shape of flower petals and one, lone seashell. Luna smiled, pleased, but not surprised, as she used a plastic knife to cut herself a thin slice of pie. The crust was buttery, flaky and filled with berries that dripped with a deep red syrup. She placed the slice onto her plate and licked the syrup off of her fingers. It tasted like cherries.

“Isn’t it lovely, Mr. Fluffykins? Mum put a spell on the pie tin. Now it can turn mud pie into real pie.” Luna said. She cut a slice for Mr. Fluffykins and another for Holly Hopper. She knew they must have been hungry after waiting so patiently. She took a sip of tea and wiped her fingers on a napkin. Pie was one messy food.

Someone knocked on the door. “Come in!” Luna said. Her mother eased the door open and a greeted her with a smile.

“How’s my beautiful girl doing?” Her mother asked. She walked into the room, her cheerful,yellow apron lightly dusted with flour. Underneath it she wore a light blue dress and sunflower earrings dangled from her ears.

“I’m good. Look, Mum! Your enchanted pie tin works.”

“Oh, I’m so glad.” Her mother said. She knelt down beside Luna and stroked her long, blonde hair. “It certainly looks quite good. But how does it taste?”

“It’s lovely. Tastes like cherries. Would you like to try some?”

“Yes, please.” Luna picked up a forkful of pie and held it up to her mother’s mouth. Her mother took a small bite and her eyes were thoughtful, as though she were paying close attention to every flavor. “You’re right, that is good. You know, only a master mud pie maker could have made a pie that good.”

“Really?” Luna asked, her eyebrows raised.

“Really.” Her mother said.

“I did have some help from Holly Hopper.”

“Then you two make a great team.” Her mother said. She kissed Luna on the forehead. Luna stroked her mother’s silky, blonde hair. Her tiny fingers were still sticky with pie, but her mother didn’t seem to mind. “So, I was thinking. Since your father has been extra busy working on the Quibbler, and since I’ve finished most of my work around the house, I figured that you and I could have a Mother-Daughter day. How does that sound?”

“That sounds good.” Luna said.

“Great. We can do anything you want. What would you like to do?”

“Hmm.” Luna hummed. She placed a finger on her chin, thinking. There were any number of things they could do on a nice day like today. They could walk on the beach, but Luna had already gone to the beach to find a seashell for her mud pie. They could read stories, but there was a particular story she had been saving for bedtime. They could have a tea party, but Luna was already in the middle of one. She wanted to do something that she didn’t get to do everyday. Her mother tended to be busy with her housework or her spells, and her father tended to be busy with the Quibbler, so a full day to bond with either parent was something to take advantage of. Luna thought of her mother’s dark, wooden wardrobe and smiled. She knew what she wanted to do.

“Can we play dress-up?” She asked.

“Dress-up it is.” Her mother said. Luna grabbed her hand and lead the way to her parents’ room. The large wardrobe rested against the wall on her mother’s side of the room. Her mum’s side was neat, if not a bit cluttered with spell books and charms. Her dad’s side was always a bit messy, with half-empty coffee mugs and stacks of handwritten notes that threatened to fall off of his nightstand. Across from her parents’ bed, the window doors were left open to let fresh air blow into the room. There was a full view of the sandy beach, the ocean, and the partly cloudy sky.

Luna pulled open the doors of the wardrobe and took in the view of all her mother’s clothing. There were dresses, skirts, sweaters and jumpers. Shoes were lined up along the bottom of the wardrobe. Necklaces hung from hooks along the doors. At the very top were her mother’s scarves and hats. Everything was vibrant and colorful, and no two pieces were the same.

“Which dresses can I try on?” Luna asked. She looked over at her mum, who was trying to straighten out some of her father’s stacks of papers. Realizing it was hopeless, her mum abandoned the task and walked over to Luna.

“You can wear anything you’d like.” Her mother said. Luna pulled back the dresses on the rack when she came to an item she’d only seen once or twice before– her mothers robes from when she attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Stitched into the corner of the robes was the blue and bronze emblem that represented Ravenclaw House. The bronze eagle had its wings spread out as though it were guarding the door to all knowledge and wisdom. Luna considered trying on the robe when a particular dress caught her eye. The top part had short sleeves and was light green. The skirt was long and red and the whole dress was quite glittery. It looked like Christmas.

Luna yanked the dress down, causing its hanger to clatter to the floor. She pulled the too-big dress over her head and giggled when the skirt fell around her like a puddle. She looked over at her mother, who had put on a pair of large sunglasses, as well as a purple, poka-dotted scarf that did not match at all with her dress or her apron. Luna decided she should accessorize, too. She scanned her mother’s collection of jewelry when a necklace with a green pendent caught her eye. It hung from a string made of black silk. She remembered her mother wearing this on the beach once or twice. If the pendent was touched by water, it began to glow.

“Mum, can I borrow that necklace, there? It’s too high up for me to reach.” She said, pointing at it. Her mother took off the sunglasses and deliberated for a moment, then took the necklace off of its hook and knelt down to give it to Luna.

“This necklace is very important to your mum. It was a very special gift from your dad. Will you be extra careful with it?” Her mother asked.

“Of course.”

“That’s my Luna.”

“Would it be okay if I tried on some lipstick?” Luna asked, her voice excited.

“I have some in the medicine cabinet. I’ll be right back.” Her mother said. She tapped Luna on the nose and left the room. Luna walked over to the mirror to see how she looked in the dress, lifting the skirt carefully so she wouldn’t trip. In her reflection, the dress absolutely drowned her. Still, she thought she looked rather pretty in it. She imagined herself being older, looking very much like her mother, and being tall enough to fit this beautiful dress. When she turned this way and that, the dress glittered in the light of the day.

She realized it would be easier to put on the necklace if her hair was pulled back. She held the cool, smooth pendant in her hands before placing the necklace on a cushioned footstool. She turned to the mirror to tie her hair back, smoothing the top with her hands the way her mum always does.

Luna went to get the necklace, but when she turned back to the footstool, it was gone. It had been there only a moment ago, but now it was nowhere in sight. She just didn’t understand. How could it have disappeared? Her blue eyes darted around the room, hoping she would somehow find it. When she didn’t, she felt the tears stream down her cheeks. Her hands began to shake and she realized she was gasping for breath. Her mother’s special necklace was gone.

Her mother came into the room to find Luna crying. She knelt down beside her and wiped the tears from her cheeks with her free hand. Her other hand was carrying a bunch of golden lipstick tubes.

“Oh, Mum, I’m so sorry. I don’t know how it happened! I just put your necklace down on the footstool, and when I went to pick it up again, it was–it was–gone!” Luna cried harder, burying her face in her mother’s hair.

“Ssh… Ssh… it’s okay.” Her mother said, stroking her back. “It’s okay.”

“No it’s not. I l-lost your sp-special necklace.”

Her mother pulled away to place firm hands on Luna’s shoulders. “You listen to me, Luna. Listen closely. I want you to remember what I’m about to tell you.”

Luna took a breath and calmed down a bit, but hot tears still streamed down her face. She sniffled and blinked the tears away. “I’m listening.” She said. Her mother looked into her eyes and smiled a genuine smile.

“I promise you. The things we lose always have a way of coming back to us.” Her mother said. A crow cawed just outside, making Luna and her mother look out the window. The black bird rested on a tree branch, and in its mouth rested a silk, black string with a green pendent attached to it. “If not in the way we expect.” Her mother added. A smile could be heard in her voice.

“It’s your necklace! Should we try and get it?” Luna asked. Her mother pursed her lips as though she were deep in thought.

“I have a better idea. How about we go down to the kitchen and share a nice bowl of pudding?”

“But what about your necklace?” Luna asked. She wrinkled her brow in confusion. Her mother shrugged and smiled.

“We’ll get it later.” Her mother said. Luna bit her lip, uncertain, but then she smiled back.

“Okay. Let’s go then. Pudding sounds great.” Luna said. She went down to the kitchen to share a bowl a pudding with her mum, and all her tears were replaced with smiles.

#Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood, Fanfiction, fiction, stories, creative writing

Analyzing Hermione: Why Ms. Granger Loves Books and Hates Divination

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Hermione loves to read. I’ve always loved this about her. She loves the library and knows she can find the answer to almost anything in a book. She is a character who proves that it is cool to be an intelligent person who loves to learn. While I do think that her love of books is something she’s probably had her whole life, I can’t help but wonder if other factors in her life contribute to this passion.

One factor that may contribute to Hermione’s love of books is her parents. As dentists, it is likely that her mom and dad are both intelligent individuals who enjoy reading and learning. I imagine that they are the kind of people who would have shelves and shelves of books in their home. They likely had a lot of nonfiction books, especially those relating to science and medicine.

Being an only child, Hermione may have been somewhat isolated. In addition to this, she probably realized from an early age that she was different from other kids. Like Harry, she might have had moments where her magic made things happen that she couldn’t explain. It might not have been as drastic as setting a python on her cousin at the zoo, but I’m sure she experienced her own bizarre incidents. Perceiving herself as different would have only added to her isolation, and so it makes sense that she would find comfort, and even a sense of companionship, in her books.

Another thing that may contribute to her love of reading is the fact that Hermione is muggle born. I always imagined that part of the reason Hermione reads so much about magic is to make up for the fact that she didn’t have the magical upbringing that most of her peers had. Most students entering Hogwarts are already familiar with magic, wands, potions, spells, enchantments, and magical creatures. They had wizard stories read to them at bedtime. Books are the one thing that allow Hermione to be just as familiar with magic as anyone else, if not more so. Books allow her to make up for lost time; for all the years that she did not know she was magical, or that magic existed at all.

In spite of Hermione’s vast knowledge and magical skill, there are two subjects she has never been fond of: Flying and Divination. Her dislike of flying kind of makes sense. Flying brooms and playing Quidditch are the more athletic skills of the wizarding world. Hermione prefers reading, studying, and taking exams. That’s not to say that a studious witch can’t also enjoy flying, but her dislike of flying does seem to fit her personality.

Her dislike of divination may be a little harder to understand. Even if the subject doesn’t quite match her personality, it is still an academic class. As a person who wishes to excel in the classroom, what is it about this particular class that leads even Hermione not to care? One factor is professor Trelawney, who insults Hermione, basically saying that she doesn’t have the future-seeing gift and accuses her of “desperately” clinging to her books.

However, I think her dislike of the subject goes deeper than having a professor who insults her. One thing divination and flying have in common is that both seem to rely on intuition more than reason. Reading a textbook really isn’t enough to succeed at these things. You just have to do it. As a creature of reason and intellect, Hermione would not be drawn to classes that basically tell her to abandon her method of learning new things.

I also find it ironic that the girl who isn’t good at Divination is also the one who was given a time-turner. The time-turner itself is proof that seeing into the future isn’t entirely necessary. After all, with some careful planning and a smart use of magic, the past itself can be changed, which means the future can be altered as well. Hermione’s dislike of Divination is also proof that a person can still be intelligent without being good at every class.

Hermione may not like Divination or flying, but her love of books and learning makes her an exceptional witch. Without her, Harry could never have rescued Ginny, formed Dumbledore’s Army, or defeated Voldemort. She is proof that friendship is valuable, cleverness is admirable, being yourself is noble, and that reading can save your life.

#Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Hermione Granger, Hogwarts

My Vegetarian Grocery Shopping List

breakfast 1

As a vegetarian, a common question I am asked is, “What do you eat?” Since I eat a number of different things throughout the day, it can be hard to narrow it down and answer that question on the spot. It’s kind of like when someone asks, “What kind of music do you like?” Most of us listen to so many different kinds that it can be hard to choose an answer.

Because asking what vegetarians eat is a common question, I thought it would be helpful to create a sample vegetarian grocery list. As someone who has been eating food at a college campus dining for the past few years, I am still learning what kinds of foods to buy and what kinds of meals to eat at home. Because grocery shopping often requires one to have a budget in mind, I like to organize the items I want by category. My main categories are: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks. Here is my sample shopping list:

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal
  • Green Tea
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Almond milk
  • Granola
  • Eggs
  • Raisin Bread

Lunch:

  • Salad
  • Brown Rice
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Tofu
  • Avocados
  • Cheese
  • Veggie Chick’n Patties

Dinner:

  • Spaghetti
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Green Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Corn
  • Chickpeas
  • Cauliflower

Snacks:

  • Rice Cakes
  • Raisins
  • Crackers
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pistacios
  • Granola Bars

Naturally, these categories can overlap. I also wouldn’t necessarily get all of these things in one shopping trip. It’s just an idea of the kinds of things I might buy for the week. If you are a vegetarian, or would like to be one, I hope this list is helpful for you.

#Food, vegetarian, food blogs, healthy