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Happy July 31st

It's gone a bit more quiet here than I planned.  I've been wrestling with a post that I just can't get right.  The veteran blogger in the house has, quite logically, suggested I could, you know, write something else in the meantime, but that's never been a trick I'm good at.  I occasionally toy with going back to grad school, but I doubt I ever will, because deadlines and page counts and and and...man, I get nauseous just thinking about it.   

(At the moment, not writing also means I'm not really reading, and watching the items mount up in my feedreader is making me all guilty and miserable...obviously, I haven't gotten nearly as far away from my Catholic roots as I'd like to believe.)

Fortunately, though, today is July 31st, and I've known for a while that I wanted to write a post for Harry's birthday.

I came to the Potter party late, when the story was already half in the bag.  I'm not actually sure why, since I'm pretty sure I read lots more kids' lit than your average bear, what with the tuff one and all.

Definitely the hype had something to do with it—I didn't see how anything could live up to the kind of praise the books were generating.

(Never mind the criticism.  Even though I wasn't interested in 'em yet, I  remember watching a local principal—I was living in Atlanta—talking about banning them from his middle school library.   Infuriating enough on its face, but he went on to say that, of course, he hadn't read them himself...on the news, as a point of pride!   My tax dollars were keeping this guy in public education!  Aaghh!)

But my mother-in-law was entranced by them, and badly wanted someone else she knew to fall in love with them too, so we ended up getting the first four for Christmas in 2000. And fall we did, with both of us reading all four straight through and finishing before the new year even began. (1)

J's mom was facing the beginning of the end of her fight with breast cancer —I think, as much as anything, she wanted to know that someone would be following the story through to its end.  Last year, we both took off the Monday following the weekend release of Deathly Hallows, to make sure we'd have enough time to finish before we had to again leave the house, thereby guaranteeing we'd reach the end spoiler-free.  

We'd thought we'd need the extra day 'cause it takes a LONG time to read almost 800-pages aloud, a tradition we started with the release of book 5, an end-run around the inevitable fight over who got to read it first. We were so serious we didn't even go to one of the pick-up-your-book-at-midnight parties--instead, we went to the Whole Foods to lay in supplies. (We've learned from bitter experience, flirting with bein' the cool kids at the late night shows at the Coolidge, that we just end up cranky and sleep-deprived all weekend...yes, we are sad and old.)

I remember the day before, realizing this was possibly a once-in-a-lifetime event, that I'd probably never be that excited to get my hands on a story again.  It made me a little wistful, but only a little, because it seemed lottery-lucky to be part of such a moment at all.  Sure, I could've come to the whole series late, and it still would have been a terrific read, but part of the fun was knowing I was just one Muggle among millions, counting out the days of summer just like Harry always did, waiting for the magic to start.

So Happy Birthday, Harry.  And thanks, Mom.


(1)That same year, I also got the first four Left Behind books.  To her, they were science fiction-y, which she knew I liked to read, and I had dabbled in religious studies and theology...I really believe she honestly thought I would enjoy them.  Since some of the most fun I have on the web is following the brilliant and hilarious skewering of those books and their ilk over at slacktivist, I guess she wasn't really wrong, even if I think she meant it more in the “she loves Ice Capades, without the irony” kind of way.