The Imaginary Heroine

searching for the plot

Flourless Cherry Chocolate Cookies January 31, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cherry Cookies

This recipe is based off the Chocolate Cookies recipe from pg57 of the Jan/Feb issue of Clean Eating Magazine. I deviated a bit in the flavor and mix in department, but by and large the recipe is the same.

The recipes in Clean Eating are generally highly nutritious and devoid of processed frankenfoods. It’s a bit minimalistic on some of the recipes. Often they don’t have equipment lists and sometimes the order is a bit wonky or assumes cooking knowledge or prep not described earlier in the recipe. I have to be sure to read the recipes very carefully and think critically about the order and prep necessary for each step. However, the food is tasty and healthy, so I’m still a fan. It recently went from quarterly to bimonthly and I couldn’t be happier.

Ingredients:

6oz dark bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips, at least 60% cacao

3 large eggwhites

1 1/2 cups sucanat, divided

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

4 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder

4 oz dried cherries

Equipment:

chef’s knife or utility knife

cutting board

medium microwaveable bowl

flexible silicone spatula

medium bowl

electric handmixer with beater attachments

large metal or glass bowl

two metal teaspoons

cookie sheets

silpats (or parchment paper OR non-stick cooking spray)

rigid spatula or other de-panning device

cooling racks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 and prep your cookie sheets with either cooking spray, parchment paper, or silpats.

Mix together half cup of sucanat, cocoa, and arrowroot powder in small mixing bowl and set aside.

Chop chocolate coarsely (you can also use chocolate chips) and place in medium microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for approximately 2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Once chocolate is smooth, set aside.

[A few major lessons I learned the hard way about dealing with egg whites. When you are separating your eggs, be very careful that none of the yolk gets into the egg whites. If you get fat into the egg whites, they will NOT expand – no bueno. Do NOT use a plastic mixing bowl. Plastic is porous and can hold on to fats you mixed in it previously. Make sure your beaters and non-plastic bowl are meticulously clean as well, so that no trace fats are accidentally added from those either. Okay…sorry for the interruption. Back to the recipe…]

Place egg whites in large metal or glass mixing bowl. Using your electric mixer on a high speed, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks; gradually beat in 1 cup sucanat and continue beating until mixture appears creamy; add vanilla. The sucanat will not completely incorporate. There will be small flecks in your white, fluffy egg whites. Gradually beat in remaining sucanat/cocoa dry goods mix on low speed.

Gently stir in warm chocolate with silicone spatula [I know what you’re thinking: Wait – you said no fat in egg whites! Well, the egg whites are already expanded here, so you can add in the fat now]. Gently stir in cherries. Mixture will be thick, sticky, and have some color marbling.

Using metal spoons, place rounded tablespoons of batter onto prepped baking sheets about 2″ apart. Work quickly, because as the chocolate cools it gets firm again. When the batter gets too firm, it becomes difficult to drop on the pan. Don’t worry, though. Once you get them together and on the pan, the firmed up batter melts and bakes just the same as the other cookies.

Bake for 10 minutes. When the cookies come out they will be puffed up.

Like so.

Cool on cookie sheets for additional 10 minutes, where the cookies will collapse down into peaks and valleys of deliciousness. Then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Om. Nom. Nom. Nom.

***

I thought the recipe looked familiar and decided to cruise around Epicurious to see if there was anything similar. Apparently, a similar chocolate cookie recipe was posted in SELF December 2008 (wow…what is with all these SELF recipes?). Then I zeroed in on the author’s name. François Payard.

Woah! What?!

THIS François Payard? These cookies are THOSE cookies?!

The interwebz are amazing.

 

A Serious PSA About a Frivolous Matter January 30, 2010

Filed under: Fashion and Beauty — imaginaryheroine @ 8:05 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

While I did enjoy my trip to the movies last night, the evening was ever so slightly marred by one of our fellow movie patrons. 7abibi and I were seated and chatting about the pre-preview bits when another couple came and sat in the row in front of us.

An almost palpable wave of perfume wafted off the very pretty and charming lady of the couple. I want to stress that she seemed like a nice enough person. She just wanted to smell pretty for her date. And she did smell good. In fact, she was wearing one of my most beloved fragrances, Vera Wang.

She just smelled too much.

I love perfume. Love it. The right perfume can evoke happy memories, unveil your inner sex goddess, and give you the steely wherewithal to swim with the sharks. My dear friend Kimberlyloc and I can and do talk about our favorite perfumes for hours. Heck, she even writes about them in blog posts. Maybe I will too sometime.

However (this is the PSA), it is really important to remember that with perfume less is more. Your perfume should not follow you around like some kind of airborne toxic event. What smells good to you may not smell good to someone else. What smells good does not smell better with increased quantity.

This goes for men too. Dear men, Tag does not make hot chicks hunt you down and tackle you in lusty fervor. Bod spray does not make us think “I want your bod” in a porny squeal. We have indoor plumbing now and body spray does not replace regular bathing.

So, please, for the love of all that is good and right, be considerate with your spritzing. Everyone else in the room thanks you.

 

27.3% of America Feels “Up in the Air”

(SPOILERS: Contains discussion of major plot points from the movie)

Last night 7abibi and I managed to catch Up in the Air before it left theaters. Despite the presence of the lovely and talented Anna Kendrick of Jessica-in-Twilight-and-New Moon fame I was kind of left feeling meh by the trailer. Guy. Planes. Whatevs. I’m so glad he talked me into it, because I thought it was smart, funny, and full of timely philosophical questions.

Up in the Air

Ryan Bingham (Clooney) is a corporate downsizer for hire, rolling around the country slashing jobs and dreaming of reaching 10 million frequent flier miles. A new hire at his firm, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), drops in a to rain on his parade with her idea to revolutionize the industry by nixing expensive travel and firing people via videoconference. Through the marvel of modern technology, downsizers like Bingham can now fire anyone anywhere from the comfort of their home office, no travel costs incurred.

Bingham fights for his jet setting lifestyle and the “dignity” of his profession only to have his boss recommend he take Natalie on the road for a quick tutorial in the art of letting people go. The film examines Bingham’s emotional detachment and isolation as well as Natalie’s naive expectations about what life looks like after the comforting structure of college is stripped away.

The most interesting portions for me were those that dealt with the emotional toll of unemployment. In a society when the first thing people ask is “What do you do?,” it is absolutely gut-wrenching to have to work around the issue of underemployment or unemployment. If the latest job stats are any indication, there are a lot of wrenched guts out there.

According to the latest press release from the US Labor Department, unemployment is still hovering around 10% in the US.  According to NPR, this number doesn’t include another 17.3% of Americans who are underemployed, working part time instead of full time or working below their education and experience level to stay afloat financially.

Although Up in the Air does touch upon the financial troubles faced by fired employees, its true accomplishment is the poignant portrayal of the identity crisis people go through when they lose their jobs. What do you do when you have no answer to “what do you do”? Who are you in our society when you are not a contractor or administrative assistant or farmer or any other do-er?

At one point in the movie, Bingham says, “When we stop moving, we die.” Taken another way, this could be read as when we stop doing, we die. An unemployed person is drastically de-verbed. They are no longer a do-er. It’s not hard to see how many people can feel a piece of themselves has died when they lose their job. You weren’t let go. You were terminated.

Though I am lucky enough to not be unemployed, I can speak to the awful feelings of underemployment – something felt by zillions of recent grads.

I busted my ass in college. So did a lot of people. I didn’t graduate high school, so I may have endowed graduation with a little more epic significance than is strictly the norm, but on campus people act as though that little piece of paper will be your ticket to the good life. Invest, they tell you. You have to invest your time and effort and (especially) money into your future.

After graduation, I filled out over 200 applications for any and every job I could find. Despite my fairly substantial work experience, near-perfect GPA, and glowing references, I only got called in for one interview. With a temp agency. They didn’t hire me. I got a decent contract position through a friend of a friend of a friend, doing approximately the same thing that I did 5 years ago as a freshman in college. It took me over a year to pick up my diploma.

To quote Tyler Durden in Fight Club:

“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

The difference between my generation and the Fight Club generation is that we aren’t living in a world of corporate plenty and we aren’t “working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” Many of us are working precarious and dead end jobs and still can’t buy shit we actually do need. Many of us are working no job and find that not only can’t we afford shit, we can’t participate in the world of American personhood.

“What do you do?”

“I do nothing.” The subtext being, “I am no one.”

It doesn’t matter how many times we’re told “a lot of people are going through this too” or “it’s not you, it’s just the recession” or “something will come up – jobs are a lagging indicator”. It feels like it’s you. Just you. You are a failure and you are alone and the life you were promised would be there if you just worked hard enough is gone forever. And you are very, very pissed off.

The corporate downsizers in Up in the Air are full of cloying doublespeak to soothe the newly terminated. “We’re here to talk about your future” and “it’s important to look at this as an opportunity” and even “if not for you, do it for your family.” Clips of the terminated employees are spliced in, depicting fear, grief, anger, and confusion. According to Imdb, these are real people expressing how they felt after they were fired from their real jobs. The juxtaposition of actors playing terminators spouting insincere corporate blather and the honest feelings of the terminated straight from the source is a truly masterful touch.

It is these same people who provide a light at the end of the tunnel – and the movie. Though still struggling to get by, their tone is more hopeful as they talk about how their families and friends rallied around them after they were fired. While the “do it for your family” line has a hollow ring rolling off of Bingham’s silver tongue, family becomes the cornerstone of these real people’s salvation. You take each day one at a time, using your loved ones to stay on course. We are not just our jobs. We are not alone.

So… I guess this is a really long way of saying thanks, 7abibi, for taking me to see Up in the Air.

 

True Blood: Love and Hate at First Bite January 29, 2010

I bought the first of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books (aka The Southern Vampire Series) in the airport on my way out (boo LAX red eye) and I read it all in one sitting. Since most of the weekend was a bunch of sitting around and being confused and depressed en masse, I went through a lot of books. I went through books 1 – 6, buying a new one each day and finishing it by that night. I’m now finished with all the published books (#9 Dead and Gone was scrumptious) and I can’t wait for #10 Dead in the Family to comeout in May. If you haven’t read them yet, you simply MUST!

Which brings me to last weekend, which I spent doing a data analysis for work. I mean all weekend. I worked in excess of 30 hours in two days with my boss hounding me by phone, text, and email via blackberry every second. Sans over time pay. The joys of being a independent contractor just keep on coming. I started my taxes a couple days ago… Pardon my lolspeak, but FML.

Since inputting data doesn’t really use all of my brain and bored brains make mistakes, I finally got around to watching True Blood Season 1, which I borrowed from my friend KristinV over Christmukkah vacation and hadn’t gotten around to watching yet.

I have to say I’m deeply ambivalent.

Before you think I’m biased by the books, I want say that there are some major differences from the books that I am not only okay with, but actually prefer. I love TV Tara. She is so much better than book Tara, who is white and a somewhat peripheral character. I LOVE that from the looks of IMDB Lafayette is going to be sticking around longer than he did in the books. Jessica is a totally new character and I find her beyond awesome (“You suck… ha ha that’s funny, because you really do suck ha ha”). The opening credits are a thing of beauty.

I love that the show has a life of its own. I stumble through a few scenes that are excitingly familiar, but then I’m left guessing like everyone else.

That said, I HATE all the super nasty sex. I mean, I know – it’s HBO. And I know, there’s some pretty sexy sex in the books. I know. And I don’t object to there being sex. Even fairly dark, sexy sex. It’s a sexy vampire show. I get it. But a lot of it is really violent and what’s more, characters are sort of getting off on the violence.

Violent sex is just something I have trouble dealing with on screen. There were some parts in the book that mixed sex with violence, but they were moments of horror and treated as such.

I also think in print I’m more able to tune things out. I can sort of pan away in my head and imagine only what I can handle. On the screen it’s so much harder. The scene where Jason pretends to attack Dawn was too hard to watch, even though I kind of thought I knew who it was and it turned out to be okay(ish) in the end, since she ended up being turned on and consenting to sex afterward.

Interestingly, I had less of a problem with violence-as-a-turn-on-leading-to-sex situation in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Possibly because neither of the characters was entirely victim or attacker. Both were trained, badass spies. Jane was giving as good as she was getting, not cowering in fear and submitting to a stronger opponent. John wasn’t covering his head and wishing it would all stop. Violence was the medium by which they came to the conclusion that though they weren’t compatible as their alter egos, they were amazingly compatible as their authentic selves.

I also feel like the violent and abusive relationship between Spike and Buffy in Season 6 had elements of this going for it. Both characters were equal attackers, victims, and willing participants. The audience was also supposed to be disgusted. Buffy felt like a lesser version of herself and so she punished herself by giving in to her lust for Spike, wallowing in the degradation. This goes on until Episode 6.19 “Seeing Red,” when Buffy decides to put a stop to her self-destructive habits, including boinking Spike on the sly, and he attempts to rape her. Spike is horrified and ultimately leaves Sunnydale to seek out his redemption through the recovery of his soul. For me the attempted rape is one of the most disturbing scenes of the entire series. Again, I think equal footing and consent is ultimately the issue. Once consent is revoked and terror is used as a tool to coerce carnal access, it’s harder to hold on to elements of the erotic.

I think an integral element of True Blood is supposed to  be the examination of how closely mingled sex and violence can be. So it toes the line between disturbing and erotic, but for me some of it is too far over that line to be enjoyable. I guess in some ways my brain rating is PG-13.

A lighter criticism: Why is Bill being stalked by a depressed cellist? That man needs a more subtle leitmotif STAT!

On balance, there are some bits I’m really in love with. So, I’m still going to watch Season 2 when it comes out on DVD and maybe Season 3, if Season 2 isn’t so rape-fetishy.

 

Whoever Brought Me Here Will Have to Take Me Home

Filed under: theImaginaryHeroine — imaginaryheroine @ 9:34 am

I spent the second week of the new year flying to Kansas and waiting with my family for my grandfather to succumb to colon and intestinal cancer. Not the best home visit ever. No one knew what to do, because there was nothing that we could do. His passing reminds me of my favorite poem by Rumi:

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.”
~ Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks

I know we all feel like his home was here with us, but I hope Grandpa’s final home and has fishing, Yellowstone National Park, and KU basketball. I’ll miss you, Grandpa.

 

Guilty Pleasures and Guiltless Double Chocolate Scones

Guilty pleasures first. After admitting my supreme dorkdom in the previous post, it’s amazing that I still have some qualms about admitting this….but… I am a Twilight fan. Actually, I prefer Twitard, in honor of one of the most hysterical blogs on the net Twitarded.

I didn’t want to read the Twilight Saga. I was tricked into  it by one of my professors. Once I started reading it, I didn’t want to like it. I started out with a pencil, circling questionable vocabulary decisions (‘verbose’? Seriously? I think she meant ‘loquacious’). But despite its doubtful literary merit and dubious moral undertones, it nearly ruined the last week of finals in my undergrad career. I started Twilight on stop day and went out and bought the other three books and devoured them one after the other. I simply had to know what happened.

I thank you Stephenie Meyer for all the joy you've brought me, but WTF, mate?

Even after the fiasco that was Breaking Dawn, I was still addicted to the books, audiobooks, soundtracks, movies, and various cosmetic and wardrobe products affiliated with the movie. I have the Aerie ruffled roll over sweats that Bella wore in that scene in New Moon where Jacob jumps into her window. I am that lame. 7abibi (“ha-bee-bee” which means my male beloved in Arabic and refers to my boyfriend, with whom I share an apartment and an annoying yet adorable cat) has born it all with puzzled equanimity, poor man.

I thought I had plumbed the depths with those sweat pants, but I was wrong.

After a few rotations of books 1 – 3 and even a stab and trying to like Breaking Dawn, it was obvious that I had to find more. I had to dip into the torrid, Mary Sue laden world of fan fiction. Don’t misunderstand – I have a few friends who read and also write fanfic. It only took a few peeks into Harry Potter fanfic during the long cold nights between books before I was totally turned off. Totally. Malfoy/Ron X-rated slash fic is just not for me. Sorry.

But after hearing the buzz on not one, but several sites about the fanfic Wide Awake by angstgoddess003, I had to go check it out. I was in pain. I needed more Twilight!

Dare I say it, but even devoid of vampires, magic, and other fantastical elements, Wide Awake is absolutely phenomenal. It’s full of delicious teen angst, drama, and romance woven together with a perfect stripe of tart humor by light and skillful hand. I stayed up two nights in a row and snuck peeks between calls at work. I was truly a woman possessed.

**Disclaimer: Wide Awake is rated M for mature. It has lots of filthy language, some graphic sexual content, and disturbing imagery that may trigger, offend, or disturb some readers. This is not your tween or prudish Twimom’s Twilight**

I want to examine some of the themes in a later blog post, because it’s a really beautiful text with many points of interest, but right now I just want to talk about cookies. You’ll notice that the chapter titles are named after cookies. These cookies provide a quick snapshot of Bella’s state of mind in a particular chapter. She relates to others through her baking.

This is something I can really relate to, as I both enjoy baking and eating baked goods. My greatest joy is always seeing other people eating and enjoying food I’ve made for them. It gives me a way to connect with people I may not know how to approach. Food helps me tell people that I care for them. For me, a gift of food is meant to encompass nutritional sustenance, sensual pleasure, and personal affection.

This recipe is based on one for a healthier cookie that was originally published in SELF magazine circa 2000. I was trying to counteract the guilty reading pleasures with a bit of virtuous eating (I seriously am trying to follow a Clean Eating diet, but my life simply can’t go on without baked goods). Unfortunately, my first batch turned out to be seriously lacking in tastiness. Who cares if food is healthy if no one wants to eat it? However, with a bit more leavening and some other tweaks, the recipe turned out to yield a pretty darn good (and quasi-healthy) scone.

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Scones

Yield: Makes 2 -3 dozen depending on drop size

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat works too, but white whole wheat tastes lighter)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup ground flax seeds or flax meal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup drained great Northern, Cannellini, Garbanzo or any white beans, liquid reserved
2 tbsp coco butter at room temperature
1/2 – 3/4 cup agave nectar
2 large eggs (can be replaced with 3 egg whites and 1 yolk, but all whites can result in crumbly, hard scones)
1/4 cup skim milk or unsweetened soy milk
1 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz chocolate chips with at least 60% cacao content
Optional mix-ins: these are great with walnut pieces, dried cherries and/or cranberries
Optional topping: 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt and 2 teaspoons raw sugar

Equipment:
1 medium mixing bowl
1 large mixing bowl

Stick blender/immersion blender
Coffee grinder
OR
Food processor

Flexible silicone spatula
2 metal teaspoons
Silicone baking mats
Cookie sheets
Nylon rigid spatula (or other cookie de-panning device)
Cooling racks

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using coffee grinder OR food processor, process oats until finely ground but not powdery. If you’re using the coffee grinder, this will have to be done in batches. Combine with flour, cocoa powder, ground flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium mixing bowl. This is your dry goods bowl.

Using stick blender, purée beans and 2 tbsp reserved bean liquid until smooth in a large bowl. Add coco butter, Agave nectar, eggs, vanilla and mix with immersion blender until combined. Alternatively, purée beans and liquid in clean bowl of food processor, and then add coco butter, agave nectar, eggs, vanilla and pulse until combined. Then transfer contents to large mixing bowl. This is your wet goods bowl and soon to be your final mixing bowl.

Add dry goods to wet goods bowl in batches, stirring slowly with silicone spatula to avoid puffs of dry goods. Stir in chocolate chips (and other mix-ins like nuts and dried fruit). Batter will be thick and wet with heterogeneous bits of mix-ins and bits of oatmeal and flax. If batter is dry, drizzle in milk 1 tbsp at a time and mix until it becomes wet. If batter is too runny, add in whole wheat flour 1/4 cup at a time and mix until it becomes thicker.

Using metal teaspoons (in my experience, the batter is too sticky for a disher or scoop) drop about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter on cookie sheets with silicone baking mats. The concern while baking these scones is upward lift, instead of outward spread. They can be made about 1.5 inches apart from each other, but be sure to spread the batter out to about 1/4 inch thickness. It will puff up quite a bit as it bakes.

Once the scones are dished onto the baking surface, now would be the time to add the topping if you so chose. Mix together salt and raw sugar and sprinkle a small amount onto the tops of the scones.

Bake 15 to 17 minutes until centers are firm. Use nylon spatula to transfer to wire rack to cool.

***

This recipe is very forgiving and versatile. Wet batter can be remedied with a bit more flour, while dry batter can be fixed with a bit more milk. There are also lots of other flavor combinations you can introduce to the batter with great results. Here are a few off the top of my head:

  • For a mocha scone add enough instant coffee mix for 2 or 3 cups of coffee to the wet goods before mixing in the dry goods
  • Try black beans instead of white – the dark, smoky flavor goes well with chocolate
  • Omit cocoa powder and chocolate chips and use mixed dried fruit and substitute lemon extract for half of the vanilla extract for a light, fruity scone
  • Omit cocoa powder and chocolate chips and substitute almond extract for half of the vanilla extract. Mix in sliced almonds for a toasty almond scone
  • Omit cocoa powder and chocolate chips and add 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 3 teaspoons ginger, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and use molasses in place of agave nectar to make a spicy gingerbread scone (omit pepper for milder gingerbread flavor)
  • Substitute maple syrup for agave nectar, nix all or part of the vanilla extract, and add in bits of cooked turkey bacon for a sweet and savory scone
  • Omit agave nectar, vanilla, cocoa powder and chocolate chips and swap 2 tablespoons olive oil for the coco butter, then try savory mix-ins like 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shreds and 1 cup broccoli pieces and 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. Or use black beans as suggested above and add in diced bell pepper, cumin, paprika, and cilantro and serve them with salsa for southwestern scones.
  • I’m not particularly well-versed in the use of alternative flours (yet), but I feel like you could experiment with omitting the wheat flour in this recipe for gluten-free alternatives like rice flour and chickpea flour. You could also try partial substitutions of soy flour to lower the carb count, but I think a full substitution could result in hockey pucks instead of scones.
 

Why Fantasy Matters

As a geeky, bespectacled, and isolated 11-year-old, I was swept off my feet by a guy named Harry Potter and plunged into a lifelong love affair with the fantasy genre. I ripped through Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards Series, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books and Sherwood Smith’s Court Duel Duet. I read the Christianity-centric Lord of the Rings, Narnia Chronicles, and His Dark Materials Series, though with less enthusiasm.

Even after most of my peers had moved on to more adult reading material (or no reading material at all), I came to regard these books as old friends and read them over and over all through junior high, high school, college, and the present, seamlessly moving between books about the philosophical roots of Islamic terror and magic spells.

It was Buffy the Vampire Slayer that bridged the gap between my childhood experience with fantasy and my adult worldview. I was late to the party, having been too young to watch during the original broadcast in the late 90’s and the out of sequence syndicated episodes were only peripherally on my radar in the early Aughts (the end of my high school career). All of Buffy and Angel were out on DVD when I bought BtvS Season 1 to prevent myself from falling asleep before finishing my crushing load of Arabic homework and/or going crazy in student housing.

A miniscule and diffuse number of friends have shared in my love affair with Harry, Buffy, and the rest, but most of them lost interest over time. By and large, fantasy isn’t something consumed proudly and publicly by the bulk of my acquaintance. I can count the number of people I talked to about Harry Potter in college on one hand – and my email was lumos@blahblahu.edu.

In the past I considered this a good thing, because I couldn’t explain why it affected me so deeply. Had it become a widely known facet of my personality, it probably would have been grounds for classification as, at the very least, someone who couldn’t be taken seriously – which is ironic, because the fantasy realm is where it’s imminently possible to hash out the most serious thoughts about life/death, good/evil, and the pursuit of the good life.

Fiction in general invites the reader (or watcher, depending on the delivery mechanism) to interpret elements of a story metaphorically and/or allegorically in order to find deeper meanings within the text. Fantasy is especially rich source material because it eschews not only historical fact, but also what is known to be possible in the real world as well. Not only did this story not happen, it couldn’t ever happen in this reality. Conflicts are magnified to epic proportions, allowing for easy access to each facet of an issue. Your high school boyfriend doesn’t just turn into a jerk after you sleep with him, he actually loses his soul and tries to suck the world into Hell (BtvS Season 2, natch). Now, what have we learned?

Fantasy invites us to explore different dimensions of meaning on a larger than life scale in a universe unbounded by what Buffy might call “our Earth logic”.

So, why does this matter when we actually do live in a universe bounded by Earth logic? It matters, because fiction suggests hypothetical structures for our worldview and thus shapes the way in which we perceive and interact with reality. It is important that the drafting board upon which we test the bounds of our Earth logic be big enough for them to stretch until they break. So that when our fantasies stop being reflections of reality and come to create realities of their own, they are worthy.