Monday, December 10, 2012

A Harry Potter cure

I'm sat up in bed at 1 am and I can't seem to get rid of the hiccups. Lucky me, these two things have accompanied each other to make my journey to dreamland more treacherous than ever. And without even the slightest idea of what to write about either. But luckily I've been inspired to do something silly and frivolous with my blog, so I'm going to tell you a bit about my Harry Potter journey and my discontented experience with the Sorting Hat.

Well it all started very uninterestingly. I was nine and in the fourth grade. I liked movies, but I didn't really think much of them. I liked reading books, but again, not a significant part of my life. Superfluous entertainment when there were pretend games to play and friends to have dramatic fights with.

Then I went to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (I'm in England so I should be saying Philosopher's Stone, but please don't attack me either way) with my grandma one afternoon. I came back to her house in the evening and drew a picture of the fuzzy headed girl played by Emma Watson. "Hermony" was what a wrote under my artistic depiction. It wasn't spelled correctly, but it marked the beginning of an obsession I still harbor today.

Several years later I went to London for the first time not because I was as much of an Anglophile as I am today, but because of Harry Potter. The franchise had turned me into a mindless zombie, searching the internet for as much information as I could on the production of The Order of the Phoenix. I'd seen the last few films at least a dozen times each and started to develop a ridiculous crush on Daniel Radcliffe.

Once I received the "O.K." from my dad that we could visit London at some point in the near future, I started coordinating my plan of attack. There was a window of time when The Order of the Phoenix premiere would definitely be taking place at the Odeon Leicester Square. I'd have to make it out there for that exact date, whenever it may be.

Eventually, I did. But more than cementing my fascination with Harry Potter, the trip created a lifelong lover of England in me.

Yet I still go back to the HP franchise over and over again at various points in my life. It's a cult that I do understand.

A few years back I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida with my dad. It only took a slightly unreasonable amount of begging to get him to agree to this. We decided to go within the first week of the park's opening. We arrived as early as we possibly could, lined up for the Wizarding World, and made it in just before 12 noon. It was so packed and so hot that being in the place was stifling. Still all my memories of it are positive.

There's something about Harry Potter, in this way and in others, that makes even the most ridiculous experiences magical. Like The Order of the Phoenix premiere, which I often forget took place on a terribly stormy afternoon in mid-June.

Most recently, I went to Leavesden Studios, the site for the filming of all eight Harry Potter films just outside London. It was a chance to walk through the Great Hall, see some of the original sets and props used in the film and taste Butterbeer again.

Each of these experiences has significantly shaped my perception of the Harry Potter fascination. But none so much as that fateful day when I joined Pottermore. Because that was when I received the definitive answer of which house I was in.

And here's where I stop going on and on about the awesomeness of the franchise and start complaining under my breath just a bit.

First I'd like to say that it's not J.K. Rowling's fault that I'm uncharacterizable when it comes to the Hogwarts houses. But after spending over half of my life admiring her creation, for some reason it pained me more than it should that I ended up being put into a house that I hadn't deemed mine. It was like being a Weasley and not making it into Gryffindor. There were simply some expectations that had to be met.

When I made it into Hufflepuff that first time around, it frustrated me to no end. Though I had gained early access to Pottermore, I never returned to the site. It felt juvenile of me, but I didn't identify with Hufflepuff so I walked away.

I tried to join again several months later through a different account when Pottermore had opened to the general public. Again I sat down and anxiously took the Sorting Hat quiz again and was put in Gryffindor.

Anyone would be excited to be sorted into Gryffindor. That places you among the privileged few - Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione (I learned how to spell it correctly over the years) Granger, Neville Longbottom. These are the characters you wish you could be friends with, right?

But I was always a Ravenclaw.

Those several years back when I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I went on a crazed search through the gift shops for someRavenclaw memorabilia. The problem with the stores were that they only really stalked Gryffindor and Slytherin ephemera. But I happily walked away with a Ravenclaw scarf after the heated search.

The effort expended made me feel an even greater kinship with my house, and from then on when prompted I would never hesitate to say I was a Ravenclaw through and through.

In reality, though, it seems I am not. But it also seems I'm neither a Hufflepuff nor a Gryffindor since I've been categorized under both houses.

This may all seem trivial, but as someone who has loved Harry Potter for years, the distinction is significant. And while it may seem petty to just title myself without the input of J.K. Rowling, I'm going to continue to say I'm in Ravenclaw.

After all, the one question left out of the Sorting Hat quiz on Pottermore was the question that Rowling herself said was integral to the sorting ceremony. The Sorting Hat always took into account which house the subject wanted to be placed in.

More than I am a Ravenclaw fan, though, I'm a Harry Potter fan. And while the idea comes out of nowhere, it remains magical nonetheless. Hey, it got rid of my hiccups, didn't it?

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