Why Harry Potter is a Masterpiece

I heard somebody once say the Harry Potter book series was “horribly written and not about anything” and that they “couldn’t even finish reading it”. Another claimed he only read it “when [he] was a kid and didn’t know any better”. Yet another denounced it has being for children. These words were spoken all by writers.

Let me clarify some things. First, I’ll admit my bias as being a diehard Harry Potter fan. I was sucked in around 2000, and became obsessed in 2002. From then on, I was there on the first day of every book and movie release. I collected as much memorabilia as I could get my hands on, and almost cried when I finished the final book. My favorite store growing up moved from Toys”R”us (RIP) to Noble Collection. I recently got a Deathly Hallows symbol tattoo. When Pottermore was first released, I immediately explored the entire website and was sorted into my house (Ravenclaw) that I identify as a part of myself. Recently, I discovered my patronus: a cat, which is also fitting.

A genre label is a guideline that I feel is not always meant to be taken seriously – especially by adults. Why would you deprive yourself of a great story because of a label you feel does not apply to you? Why would you limit yourself? Many have said Harry Potter is a children’s book. True, it started off as a children’s book, but it became much more than that. I see it as purely fiction. It deals with adult topics at times.

A true writer should understand this. It goes beyond preference when you insult Harry Potter with incorrect observations. Harry Potter is a magical coming-of-age series about a brave boy’s discovery of himself in a world he is unaccustomed to. The seven books slowly reveal his past and future, but most of all, how he is truly brave. He risks his life every time he steps foot at Hogwarts, the magical school of witchcraft and wizardry, but he presses on to learn the truth.

Also, for those of you who have only ever watched the movies, shame on you. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movies, but the books tell so much more.

I consider J.K. Rowling a saint. I cannot thank her enough for giving me such a magical world to escape. She is truly brilliant.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

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A Short Explanation of My Beliefs

For my mother, who always says, “I’m not sure what you believe now…”

Open me up and tell me what’s wrong with me.

When I was nine, I was baptized. I thought I understood what it all meant at the time, but now that I look back, I realize that I understood as much as a nine-year-old could – which was probably wrong. I was raised Baptist and grew up with multiple Bibles in my house. That’s not to mean my family was strictly religious. No, there were curse words and other sins more frequent than other families. But Christianity was always there. When the topic came up, it was a wholehearted conversation about God’s love and blessings. Church was on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. We even had a church family.

I’ve always said things I never mean which I guess takes meaning away from powerful words. I think a couple times in my life I actually felt the Holy Spirit, but it was always in short bursts. It never lasted. I become obsessed with things for a little while, and then I grow bored of them. There isn’t a specific time or moment I can pinpoint where I “lost my faith” because then I would be admitting that I had it to begin with. I think I had some version of it as a child. I do remember going through an atheist phase during my teenage years and later agnostic. A couple years ago I called myself a “non-practicing Christian”. Now I’m not sure what to believe. I’m very open, just not committed. I hate commitment. I believe God exists, but I also believe in luck, the universe, and some superstitions. So what does that make me? I hate church environments; which probably stems from my introverted nature. I’m the only one in my family that feels this way. The rest are devout Christians that love church. They don’t understand anything less. This outsider feeling doesn’t bother me so much anymore – if anything, I just become annoyed when they start talking about how everything in life points to God and we need to go to church every Sunday. You’d think they would realize by now that the more they try to force something down my throat, the farther away they push me. I just want to be left alone.

The world is obsessed with labels. How about I just be? Why do I need a label?

“What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.”

“Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”

– Buddha

Dexter

Dexter is the most satisfying scratch to the most pesky itch of my own inner serial killer feelings.

This character makes me feel so alive. He makes me feel like smirking at this secret knowledge of his existence and the possibilities when someone is aggravating me.

When I read or watch Dexter, I am instantly transported into a world more understandable than The Purge. He’s not just a serial killer, he’s a good person acting out dark thoughts for good reasons. He acts as a backup when the Justice system fails time and time again. He has an incessant need like a pedophile does but it turns into a duty.

It’s a relief to know I am not alone in the world with my thoughts.
Dexter is my hero. He is my ultimate favorite character. No matter what I write, you still won’t quite understand how much Dexter means to me.

My sincere thanks to Jeff Lindsay and his editors, and to the Showtime producers, cast and crew for bringing this to light.

Sincerely,

A delayed fan.

How to Be a Proper Hotel Guest

Dear Reader,

There’s a pretty good chance you have stayed in a hotel at least once in your life. For those of you who have never worked in customer service, here is a crash course in proper guest behavior:

(This is one particular brand of hotels, others may differ slightly)

#1 When you book a reservation, make sure you know how you’re booking it.
If you’re booking online and think you’re doing it on the actual hotel’s website, check again. There are misleading links/ads that will actually take you off the hotel website onto a third party website. You will end up paying more and will have less options if you need to make a change.
If you call to book a reservation, make sure you’re not talking to someone in a call center. This is very important. I’ve had so many guests yell at me for their reservation being screwed up, swearing up and down they called the actual hotel. No, your reservation history says you booked it through Reservations.

#2 Don’t expect to get a room at eight o’clock in the morning.
Early check in? Sure. But don’t be picky about it. We have limited rooms available in the morning and what you get is what we have. Check-in time is generally 3pm, and depending on how many departures we have that morning, housekeepers can only clean (without rushing) so fast. It’s safe to check in generally around noon and after.

#3 Don’t come before your mobile check-in time.
It’s not that we don’t like surprises (we actually don’t), as stated in #2, if you say on the mobile app that you’re going to check-in at 11AM, okay fine, we’ll try and find you a room in time, but we’re watching the clock constantly. So when you come in an hour or more early trying to check-in, you throw us off guard and we’re having to scramble to find you a room. We usually block you into a specific room (this guarantees you a room – see #4) and it’s usually not ready until maybe 2-3 hours before you said you would check in (if we’re not full).

#4 Want a guaranteed room? Come early or do the mobile check-in.
I know, I know. I just said don’t come early. What I mean is, if you are coming for a specific event in the area, don’t assume you’re the only one attending. Especially if the event is very close to the hotel. If you want a room, even if you have a reservation, it is not guaranteed unless you do the mobile check-in, or it’s first come first serve. We try and honor your reservation, but things happen and sometimes we book for more rooms than we have. Better to get there closer to 3PM than expect something after 9PM.

#5 “I’m a [blank] member, don’t I get something for free?”
Don’t do that. If you want to piss us off, go ahead and state your member status and tell us how long you’ve been coming to the hotel. Go ahead and try to use your member status to demand a certain room or say, “I’ve always gotten this when I come here.” The more you agitate us, the less likely we are to work with you.

#6 MOST IMPORTANT: DO NOT YELL AT THE STAFF FOR SOMETHING THAT IS BEYOND THEIR CONTROL.
Okay, we get it. You’re pissed because the air conditioner in your room went out and maintenance won’t be in until the morning. What good is it to yell at me about it if I just told you maintenance won’t be here until the morning? How is yelling at me going to fix the A/C? Yelling at me also decreases your chances of receiving something complimentary for your trouble.

#7 Do not weasel your way into a cheaper rate.
This is highly annoying and you are less likely to get what you want. You may ask a question or two about why the rate is what it is, but that’s it.

#8 Figure out how you want to pay for your room BEFORE you check in.
Nobody has time to play games with switching cards or deciding at the last minute to split payments.

#9 I asked for your phone number. Don’t worry, we won’t call you.
We ask for phone numbers just in case we need to contact you about either a billing issue, or (most common) if you left something in the room and want it back. We do not make harassing sales calls (I think that’s a different department – and only if you work for a big company).
Same goes for email. We email you the bill receipt. If you want a paper copy, that’s fine too.

#10 The lobby is not your home.
Do not put your feet on the furniture, keep your shoes (and everything else) on, do not hog an area, do not get drunk, and for Pete’s sake DO NOT PLACE A CALL ON SPEAKER. You have a bed, so sleep in it – not the couch. You are not the only guest.

#11 Thinking about stealing something from the market? Think again.
We have ways of catching you.

#12 Do not rush me or cut me off.
If I’m telling you something, it’s because you need to hear it. For you to wave me off when I’m explaining our hotel amenities is rude and stupid because you’re going to have these questions later.

#13 Do not expect whatever you left in the room to still be there after months have passed.
We have lost and found, but it gets cleaned out usually every two weeks (at most every month). Unless you call and tell us to hold it for you, there is no guarantee we will still have it if you come back looking for it three months later. It doesn’t work like that. And if you call and say you’re going to pick it up, pick it up within a day or two. Anything past that, it gets lost and/or thrown away.

#14 We do not accept pets (unless it’s a service animal).
Don’t be a horrible person and lie. If it’s a service animal, fine. Don’t lie and say it is when it’s not (karma is a bitch), and don’t try and sneak in your pet. We always find out if you have a pet and we charge a hefty fee to your card we have on file.

#15 Put your damn phone down when you’re checking in.
I do not have time to sit around and wait for you to finish your call or text. It’s very rude and holds up the line.

#16 Small chit-chat is fine, but I’m not your therapist.
I don’t have time (nor do I want to) to listen to your amazing experience with God, how your kid got into college, or what you did to need surgery. Also, if it’s about a horrible experience at the hotel, get to the point. I don’t need to know all the details.

#17 This is 2018. Fucking Google it.
Either buy a damn GPS, or use the one on your smartphone. Your phone is also capable of Googling how far away a restaurant is as well as their phone number. If you want a personal recommendation, fine, but do the rest yourself.

#18 I don’t care what the other hotels let you do, these are the rules for this hotel.
The other hotels had free breakfast? Great, go there. We do not. The other hotels had a busboy? We don’t. The other hotels let you get this for free? Doesn’t work that way here. Yes, we are a chain. No, we are not all the same. We have different branches that cater to different kinds of guests.

#19 Relax, the incidentals you pay for will be returned to you.
Paying for incidentals in non-negotiable. Period. But don’t worry, it will be returned to your card in 4-5 business days (depending on your bank) after you check out. You can also pay cash and get it back immediately when you check out.

#20 Do not go behind the desk and help yourself.
Give me a minute, and I’ll help you with whatever you need. Guests are not allowed behind the desk.

#21 Do not tell me what I need to do.
That’s the fastest way to piss us off (see #5 as to why you don’t want to do this).

#22 If you see me counting the cash drawer, do not pay with cash when purchasing something from the market.
You can add it to your room. I just counted the drawer, and you will mess me up completely. It’s a major inconvenience and it’s very inconsiderate.

#23 If your card is too damaged to swipe, it cannot be used to pay for your room.
You also look shady. No, we cannot (and will not) type in the numbers. No, we cannot just use the card on file that you booked with. We have to do a physical swipe of the card. You’re too stupid to realize your card is badly worn and needs to be replaced? Too bad. Use another card or you don’t get a room. Yelling at me for your card not working is useless (see #6).
You also will not get a room if your card is denied. Provide us with another form of payment or move on.

#24 Do not cut in line.
You see me busy. I. Am. Busy. I will get to you as soon as I can.

#25 Borrow something? Bring it back.
Please.

Lastly, remember, this is customer service. We have the power to make your experience miserable or at least very inconvenient. Think about that before you act like an asshole.

The Arrogant Worker

I somehow find myself back in customer service. A minor setback, but it’s okay because for once I have goals. No matter where I am employed however, I notice the same pattern: poor management. I realize now that I won’t be happy unless I work for myself. I don’t mean to brag, but very few people match my work ethic. That’s the problem – I can’t do it all myself, so I need a team that works just as hard and efficiently as I do. I have yet to find a company that actually cares about their employees.

Working in customer service is very difficult. It requires a lot of patience, a pleasant demeanor (though this apparently is not required in call centers – have you noticed?), a good amount of energy, and a sane mind to begin with.

I work at a hotel whose number one goal is to be number one out of all the hotels in the world. The most important thing is to make a guest happy so that they will leave great reviews. Nothing else matters. If you suck it up for enough years, you get to become a manager (at a different location) which is like a retired position. You just have to come out and show your face every now and then to prove you exist, but then you can go back into your office and sit on your ass for the rest of the day until it’s time for you to leave early. You don’t have to train new hires; current employees with barely enough training themselves can do that for you. You don’t even have to answer your own phone when someone transfers a call to you. You can disappear for long amounts of time without telling anybody, and when you do have to take an employee’s position at the front desk, you don’t have to do the job completely. No need to file mandatory paperwork or even count the cash drawer!

Besides these grievances, I’m always thinking of ways to improve something. Sure it’s barely working fine right now, but it could be better. But I might as well tell it to the toilet. My opinions do not matter. My suggestions do not matter. My grievances do not matter. I, as an employee, do not matter.

We had our first meeting the other day (before then, if a new policy came along, unless you asked (and it always depends on who you ask), then you didn’t know there was anything new). It started off promising (literally- “We’ll go through some training and new policies and then the end will be for questions or concerns.”) but then it turned into the most wasted hour of my life. We spent maybe twenty minutes training (more of a presentation really) on something that could have been taught in five, thirty minutes viewing an online program that showed us our poor hotel stats (we must be number one in the world!), and the rest of the meeting was spent going over a new policy that not even the managers fully understand. After that it was a, “Thank you guys for coming.” Nobody moved for a good minute. We were all very confused. Most of us were looking forward to the end to voice our “concerns”, but instead we were being dismissed. One guy actually spoke up and asked about this. A manager quickly went over to shut him up and then we dispersed. I was reluctant – still in shock at being lied to (I suppose I’m a little naïve) and dragged my feet. The same guy that tried to voice his concerns came over to me and let me know the one manager I was sort of okay with was someone not to be trusted. “She told me that you sound arrogant whenever you leave her sticky notes…” I couldn’t even reply because it felt like a slap. Then I guess my expression started to change because then he said, “Don’t do anything, just watch your back.” I had brought a list of my own concerns (typed and professional), but I quickly folded it up and stuck it in my back pocket and left.

This was the list:

MANAGERS

I noticed sticky notes on the door that don’t get addressed and are just left there for at least a week. I personally leave sticky notes for something important that I couldn’t or can’t do myself. It’s frustrating because it’s usually something that is preventing me from doing my job –and the longer I have to wait, the more inconvenient it is.

One of my biggest annoyances is not being backed by the managers when I get chewed out by a guest. The guests can be as insulting and unprofessional as they want, and then a manager will come and give them exactly what they are demanding, and then walk away. I feel like the managers should at least explain to the guests not to talk to employees that way and then maybe explain to us why they gave in to them.

Another problem is sometimes at the end of the day on Fridays, managers will forget to check the drawer to make sure the front desk has enough change for the weekend.

TRAINING

I got training here and there from different people. The number one thing I noticed is that even on standard Marriott policies, everyone has a different answer. Nobody seems to be on the same page. Hopefully this meeting will change that.

Speaking of training, most of the time, people are hired and released on their own too quickly without full training. I understand people have to be on their own some time, but one week or a little more of training doesn’t seem to me to be enough.

OTHER

I think we need a house aid every night –especially if only one person is working. It can get busy and it’s impossible to deliver things to rooms while managing the phone and desk at the same time. More than anything, honestly, it’s stressful.

Just to clarify, we are not allowed to punch in credit card numbers when guests check in, correct?

When will we be upgrading to chip readers?

There seems to be an inconvenience with the beer cage keys. Is that something only managers have access to? If so, that doesn’t make sense when the managers aren’t here at night. I would think the person working would need to have the keys, so that they can access and sell the beer.

IDEAS

We need maps of this area. Guests don’t really take to the interactive screen. A lot of them want a physical map to see what’s around.

Lastly, I think we should hold meetings every now and then that show people that might not have known how to do things. It could be called “Did You Know?”meetings or seminars. Popular topics are how to properly process a tax-exempt form, how to enter/charge a credit card for incidentals, how to do cashpoints, and ways to ask for a company name. It could be fun.

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a way to remind myself everyday I work from now on that I might as well be mute.

Where’s the Pause Button on Life?

Another year passed by so quickly. 2013 was surprisingly great for me. I became a better person and was mostly successful: I got out of the house and got a job, made friends (almost zapping my anxiety away completely), took two more online college courses and came to peace with my hair. Not bad.

I’m still loving my job – though it has its ups and downs (nothing is perfect). Overall it’s a joy to be there. I will have been a carhop for a year come the end of January which is super exciting. Right now I had to take some time off to travel with my mom to another one of her residencies in Kentucky. I’d heard of Chicago, but I never thought I would actually experience negative degree weather until a couple days ago when it reached -1 in Murray. The people here are even nicer than in Tennessee which prompts me to tip the pizza guy even bigger (I am now officially out of cash).

The pets are driving me crazy here. The cats and bird have been misbehaving like crazy. Cleopatra won’t stop hissing at her sister Jade and Symba won’t stop screaming his head off. Caity (the dog) has a new trick called selective hearing. It seems nobody can behave.

My plans for this new year are kind of up in the air. The only thing I can confirm right now is my attendance for Johnny Depp‘s upcoming movie Transcendence in theaters in April. I still dream about him, sadly, but he has given me a new (sort of) inspiration for writing material. I am enjoying my mediocre-professional new camera I got (exchanged previously by two other cameras) for Christmas courtesy of my wonderful mother: Nikon CoolPix P520. It takes great shots and it’s easily portable. I love it.

I’m still watching a ton of movies and reading constantly. The last movie I watched was an old James Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever (1971). The last book I read was “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by the great Hunter S. Thompson (the second book I’ve read of his).
I’m still watching my favorite shows (in order of importance): Criminal Minds, Elementary, and New Girl. I have lately added to the list: The Michael J. Fox Show, Mom, and The Crazy Ones. I have yet to check out The Millers. I’ve been catching up on Undercover Boss (I like knowing about things) and I just recently learned of a new and interesting show: Intelligence. I wonder what my tastes say about me..

Apparently phones last even less than cars. My Samsung Galaxy S3 has lately turned into an annoying piece of shit. I’ve been struggling with it for the past few days because I recently up-sized the micro SD card and I guess it didn’t like that so it’s been acting up even more. Most times it doesn’t feel like sending messages – and when it does, they always take forever to send. I have given up on it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a a change of heart, though I doubt it. There’s no point wasting my time again with T-Mobile. They’ll just tell me all the things I already know including to try and set it back to factory – which is below my last resort.

Well, that’s all for now. My cat (Cleopatra) is whining about something and I guess I should go see what she wants.
You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin

‘Twas the Summer of 2013, and All Was Shaky

These are some of my newly acquired (and other) hobbies:

  • Collecting coins
  • Shopping on eBay
  • Hesitantly adding people I know on Facebook
  • Watching movies
  • Reading
  • Writing (a little)
  • Playing The Sims on my phone
  • Running from bees, wasps, and other scary things

I collect not only coins, but bills too (to my mother’s dismay). That’s mainly what I do on eBay: shop for dirt-cheap coins and bills. My job gives me the wonderful opportunity of stumbling upon old bills and coins through tips. Speaking of work, I love my job though it has its downs. My coworkers are a step down from the personality clashes I see on the show, L.A. Hair. It’s entertaining just to watch.
The best way to find out what I’ve seen lately, is by checking out my ratings history on IMDb (though a lot of times I go through and rate old movies I’ve seen and have forgotten to rate). I have Redbox release dates on all my calendars and frequently browse YouTube for any free, full-length movies worth watching.

I think my generation caught the social media thing towards the end after graduating. I feel kind of old now when it comes to social media. All these new things are popping out out of the blue like every week, and it’s just exhausting. Keeping up with Johnny Depp is already exhausting (he’s currently promoting his latest movie, The Lone Ranger, and filming Transcendence when he’s not doing that, and who knows what else – very busy man). So first I did YouTube (I think), then Twitter, THEN Facebook (back and forth), then Formspring or whatever, then Google+, then Pinterest, then Instagram, then…etc. You see what I mean? I mean I know I don’t have to sign up for all of it, but it all looks interesting. Besides, that’s all I use my smartphone for anyway – to connect to social media, and play addicting games (The Sims FreePlay, iMobsters, and more).

My room is once again a mess. The floor is covered with ripped-open packages everywhere (I’ve been ordering a lot of stuff online) and clothes that I’ve been hoping my cat won’t urinate on before I can get them up off the floor. My closet isn’t any better.

My boss is a funny one. He loves keeping busy (no matter how hectic things get, he always has a goofy grin on his face). Lately I’ve been spotting a ton of spiders here and there. So here I’m constantly thinking of Spider-Man and brown recluses and trying to remain calm enough to not look like a complete idiot in public. The other day while I was working, I saw a transparent spider slowly hang down from the ceiling, suspended by its web. Its movement reminded me of Charlotte’s Web. I backed up and pointed out this spider to my co-workers; we had our boss come and deal with it. You know how he dealt with it? He took his hand and caught the web from the top, then proceeded to swing it around a little (with a goofy grin and the satisfaction of scaring us girls) before he dropped it onto the floor and mushed it with his shoe. I was watching closely the whole time and wasn’t sure he got it after it dropped to the floor, so I was hesitantly searching the ground for this transparent spider, when my boss pointed to where I was standing and said “There it is!”. I jumped up almost onto the counter, freaked out. He went back to work laughing at his joke.

My mom is once again heavily into graduate school. She’s studying for her MFA in Creative Writing. Just one more year and possible two more residencies to go. I’ll be honest, I’m sick of driving/riding through the country. I want to be somewhere that is permanent and comfortable. In a year, after she graduates, we’re moving back to Texas but who knows.
I guess I’ve finally decided on what to study in college: Film. I don’t want to be a director or actor, I just want to study Film and go from there. Twenty-years-old and I just realized this. Well, it could be worse I guess.

The pets are still driving me crazy. Caity (our dog) is going though the only thing that keeps her quiet and preoccupied faster than toilet flushing.

There are these chicken-flavored, braided chew toys (big) that she spends all day eating. It used to take her about two weeks to finish one; now she’s going through one every three days or so. Of course they’re sold at only one place at 2/$5, but I’m not rich!
The cats are getting on my nerves with their problems, but none of them is worse than Symba (our bird). He was doing just fine for 15 years, and then we had to go on a road trip, so we dropped him off at my grandmother’s house and she SPOILS HIM ROTTEN!!!! She searched the web for classical music so he could have something to listen to, she gave him all of her time AND she picked out the seeds he didn’t like! He was over there for a week. As soon as we all got settled at home, he noticed the change and started screaming his little head off. So everyday we had him listening to Mozart. That worked for a couple of months, but then he got sick of that, so we switched to watching cartoons on TV. He likes certain cartoons. I recently went and bought a Dora the Explorer DVD (it was painful) and he watches that at least three times a day, but he still has many screaming moments. I get several headaches and my mom doesn’t get any work done. He’s a disturbed bird that does not like to be disturbed. It’s lovely.

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” – Abraham Lincoln