I’m back!

The mini-vacation was good, although I didn’t get the writing done that I intended. But I so needed the break.

Yesterday was part one of my brother’s move, which was… an adventure. It was pouring rain, which meant first carrying boxes and furniture soaked to the bone and with the cardboard melting as we ran to the truck, then driving the unfamiliar, clogged route (unhelpfully diverted by construction) from Brooklyn to Harlem on rain-slicked streets in a lumbering truck with windows that kept fogging up. I have HUGE respect for his driving abilities now, and I didn’t make it any easier on him with my held breath and white knuckles. And then more carrying boxes in the pouring rain, and more driving to bring the truck back, nodding off on the subway home and collapsing into bed, too tired and limp to make dinner. He had asked me to show up at 10:30 AM, and we finally finished at 11:00 PM, so we were both just wiped by the time we finished. And then the poor guy had to get up at 5:00 AM this morning for a work thing.

And despite all that, I had a pretty good time being with him, helping him out, and I’m really enjoying having him stay so far. The apartment is piled high with both our belongings, but it feels like cheerful clutter. And I slept better last night than I can remember doing in a long time. Normally I sleep very poorly when sharing a room with anyone, but he’s always been the exception to that rule; just knowing he’s there makes me feel all’s right with the world, like I’m eleven years old again and he’s conked out in the bottom bunk.

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Release party

By this point I’ve ready the book cover to cover, but I’m going to wait a few days before commenting on it to give other people a chance to catch up. But the release party was a whole hell of a lot of fun and I wanted to share!

The Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Center had a million and six things going on. Right when you came in the door there was a fortune-telling booth and a couple of chamber musicians playing music from the movies. On the second floor were crafts tables and the like. But the real treats were on the third floor: costume contests, actors doing improv based on what audience members thought would happen in the seventh book, and… LIVE WIZARD CHESS.

The wizard chess was whole levels of awesome. You put your name in a hat and I got picked as a Slytherin knight. We squared off across a huge chessboard laid out on the floor, and two chess grandmasters called out the moves they wanted us to make. Which would have been terrific fun in and of itself, but there was a twist: Before you could make the move chosen for you, you had to answer a really hard trivia question (divided into age levels, but still, how many people can list the ingredients of polyjuice?), and if you got it wrong, your side lost that turn. So the grandmasters had no idea whether the gambit they were setting up would be railroaded by missing three turns in a row. And because you weren’t allowed to say the answer if it wasn’t your turn, everyone was jumping up and down on the squares in frustrated delight, going, “Oh, I know this one! I know this one!” A store employee who I’ve seen before, a real sweetie, dressed up as Harry Potter and asked the questions, but the judge was this employee dressed as Draco Malfoy who really hammed it up and got into the role, trying to give Slytherin extra points and insulting the Gryffindors left and right. I did pretty well, but I got taken out by a five-year-old Gryffindor bishop who didn’t even come up to my waist, which was cool because after he got his question right in this tiny little voice, he put up his dukes and fake-pummelled me off my square, so I had a fun death.

By the time midnight rolled around, everyone was sleep-deprived, coasting on enthusiasm and Starbucks-induced sugar rushes, and then they announced that they were closing down the store except for people actually buying the book, so I left since I wasn’t going to buy it on Friday night. When I got down to street level, the line for reserved copies went all the way around four sides of a city block and onto a neighboring block. Three blocks away, I could still hear people squealing like Elvis fans as they got their copies.

I went back the next day to read the book in the store, and again, the line was around the block. For the first four hours the store was open, it was just a steady stream of people coming in, going straight to the counter, getting the book and going out again, while the booksellers ran back and forth from the stockroom with more boxes to replenish the stores. I was up in the cafe, sitting across from this high school girl who was playing hooky from shul. And we’re reading at roughly the same pace, but at any given moment, one of us will be a little ahead of the other and giggle or get misty-eyed, and the other would say, “Wait, wait! I’m not there yet!” But as promised, I’ll save my thoughts about the book for a later post, except to say that I take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about J.K. Rowling. This book was whole levels above what I thought she was capable of.

Harry Potter release!

I’m going to one of the release parties tonight with a friend, mostly because I’ve never gone and am curious. Frankly, the fanfic and fanart made a much bigger impression on me over the years than the books themselves, but despite my mixed feelings about JKR as a writer, like everyone else I’m curious to see how she chooses to end the series.

So here are my predictions for what-all’s going to happen in book 7, just to see how well (or poorly) I can anticipate how JKR’s various plot threads are going to pay off…

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