Tag Archives: harry potter

I haven't read your memoir yet.

I imagine it’d look something like that scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where Harry shoves a Basilisk fang into the black leather journal and sticky blood oozes out. That’s how it looks in my head at least.

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Ginny Weasley—the girl who loses sight of being a girl when she tries to wander down into the darkness.

I imagine the way shivers might run up the length of her spine when she steps back to survey the damage she did. The way the tears well up inside when she figures out that wrecking something doesn’t make it any less harmful.

And sometimes, you only end up with a mess to clean up.

I haven’t read your memoir yet.

That doesn’t mean you have to go out right now and purchase a journal. Don’t bother writing it all down for me. I’ll purchase a copy the old-fashioned way.

You know, before there were Nooks and Kindles and iPads. Before a book’s pages were waterproof. Back then you could feel the texture beneath each page when you turned it.

You could hold those words close like they were written for you and only you.

Back then I could purchase a copy of your memoir over coffee. Or tea, if you’re like me and still haven’t fallen in love with the black steaming liquid we all rely on to keep our heads up and our feet moving when bedtime is nearly the same as the moment when the alarm clock goes off on tomorrow.

We’ll go to the nearest Starbucks where you can still plug in to everything you need—Wi-fi and gossip, served fresh daily—because I know you’re afraid to skip all the pleasantries and begin with the guts.

The guts?

Tell me, in more than a few words, why you’re upset or elated or whatever.

I’m sick of stumbling through life making judgments based on Facebook statuses and Twitter feeds. I’m sick of wondering and assuming and listening to the way we categorize everyone based on what they did on Friday night.

I don’t know you. I haven’t read your memoir yet. But I want to.

I think we’re afraid to start with something big like that. Something like what’s keeping you hooked to the caffeine IV each morning.

What’s so bad you didn’t sleep a wink last night? That even when you’re poolside on Saturdays you can’t let the wall you’ve built up come tumbling down?

I don’t need to know everything. I certainly can’t handle it all, and one mini inquiry won’t solve this problem of Judging and Labeling Strangers but I hate the way the frustration wells up each time someone I know starts to frown and whisper when someone else walks by.

I don’t know what’s so bad. They don’t know what’s so bad.

But I want to.

I want the noncommercial version, the one I can’t buy for two easy payments of $19.95 plus shipping and handling. The one locked under your bed. The one you reprimanded every time it started to free itself across the pages of a blank Word document.

I want you to knock down your carefully constructed empire where pointing fingers and speaking slurs in hushed voices has become commonplace.

Level with me, will you?

It’s the only way to help me stop. Don’t give me reasons to bash your decisions or raise my eyebrows or roll my eyes.

Make me listen. I want to know your story.

Start at the beginning, page one of the memoir, and leave nothing out.

I am praying, just praying, that Sarah Dessen writes novels until she's on her death bed.

sarah dessen what happened to goodbye jodi picoult dreamland change of heart

favorite books

There are some things I know I love. Chocolate and peanut butter. Buffalo chicken. The whipped cream on top of a signature hot chocolate from Starbucks. The smell of summer nights. Waking up to a text message that school’s closed for a snow day. Monday Night Football.

And then there is Sarah Dessen. We book lovers measure ourselves against one standard of fandom: that of Harry Potter.

I do not dress up in a cloak and wizard hat, therefore I am not that crazy. Really. Right?

Sarah’s newest book, What Happened to Goodbye, came out yesterday. To buy it or not to buy it? I knew that, whether I waited six days or six months, it would end up on my shelf like all the others.

So I didn’t feel the least bit guilty when I swung open the bookstore doors and a tiny bout of nervousness washed over me. What if they don’t have it? I scanned the new releases section. Nothing. Then, casually, I meandered to the back of the store to the young adult section.

And there they were. Three copies. Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours.

I picked one up, leafed through to make sure that yes, this was what I wanted. Read the description lining the book flap. And knew that even though I had a To Read List as long as my arm, this would make the cut.

“These have been selling like crazy,” the girl at the register, a girl I’d graduated high school with, told me.

“It just came out today,” I told her. “These books are like Harry Potter for me.”

I promised her I wouldn’t run home and flip it open. She told me she wouldn’t judge me if I did. And I didn’t even realize, then, that I was worried about that. Being judged, that is.

I am praying, just praying, that Sarah Dessen writes novels until she’s on her death bed. And then, I’m praying she whispers stories into her daughter’s ear. So that the rest of us never have to live without the perpetual flow of new girls in new worlds with new hurdles to leap.

I’ll be forty-five and reclined on a lawn chair, catching rays of sun as my own twenty-one-year-old daughter runs along the beach shoreline.

And I’ll read the well-worn pages, letting the sun kiss the spine and fade the color. Let the salt water mix with the edges and shrivel them a bit. Just for a little character. Just so I know the book was loved.

I figure if I can admit that, the Harry Potter fans can wear their cloaks at midnight on July 15. They can shed a tear when the credits roll. When their childhood slips away like a rug being pulled out from under them.

So why, I’m wondering, do we feel bad about the things we love?

I figure we are entitled to our love. We can choose to own up to it, to share it with the world, or we can hide it underneath our pillows for safekeeping.

But here is the thing about that: there is nothing safe about keeping it locked away. Nothing right about hiding and pretending we don’t love something or someone. Logical or illogical. Real or magical.

So be honest. And tell people what you love. Don’t be afraid of that. It is one thing to hide; it is quite another to be found. And trust me, you will be found.

Someone will discover your secret stash of romance novels in the cardboard box labeled old trophies. The handfuls of candy bars pushed to the back of your sock drawer. The box of 128 crayons, sharpener included, hidden behind pens and pencils in your art studio.

If it’s there, let it surface.

There is no impending catastrophe. There is just you, sitting in a room and worrying incessantly.

caught in a downpour - drenched

caught in an unexpected downpour on the way to the dining hall

Sometimes, I think the world’s going to implode. But then I remember that I live with two science majors who, in the event of a catastrophe, would give me a little more advanced notice.

Stress is my best friend. I cling to it the way other people cling to stress reliever techniques like exercising or listening to music. I let it envelop me and define me and mark my day like invisible ink written up and down my arms.

Perhaps I should’ve been a character in Harry Potter. He had invisible ink and half of the wizarding world conspiring to kill him. And he turned out ok, right?

My real best friend—the living, breathing one—gave me some of the most sound advice a couple of weeks ago for handling stress.

And I listen to her. The girl’s working 30some hours a week, practicing for two separate plays, casting/directing another scene and is enrolled full-time at a community college that, oh yeah, is 30 minutes from her house. If anyone handles stress well, it’s her.

“Let yourself stress about anything you want for 30 minutes,” she told me.

At first, I thought that was a little odd. Who actually condones stressing for half an hour? That can’t be good. Imagine the hole I could work myself into in such a short time.

Then, when she explained, I felt a little better about the idea.

“You give yourself half an hour and that’s it,” she said. “Then you can’t stress for the rest of the day.”

Half an hour for all the stuff writhing inside me? All of a sudden, 30 minutes wasn’t long enough for me to drown myself with deadlines and expectations.

But it’s perfect. It’s perfect because stress makes us go crazy over the things we cannot control. I cannot stop the unexpected from cropping up. I cannot stop someone else from not holding up his or her end of a bargain. There will always be a small moment in which, despite my best efforts, I fall short.

And letting my mood and my day and my whole life revolve around all the minor unexpected twists and turns will only make me feel like I’m

carrying around an anvil on my back.

Instead, I’ll take 30 minutes to write it out. To get worked up or angry or frustrated or irritated or whatever I want to feel. But as soon as those 30 minutes are up, it’s a good day again.

Yesterday started off raining. By noon, the sun was out. That’s the sort of day we should come to expect. But only if we stop freaking out long enough to realize the rain’s not falling anymore and the world’s not imploding.

There is no impending catastrophe. There is just you, sitting in a room and worrying incessantly.

Change is not a subtraction problem.

From a young age, we’re told not to change people. If someone smokes or drinks, lies or cheats, we can’t bring our own agenda into a relationship and expect to change them. A smoker is going to smoke, unless you’re really awesome at inspiring them to quit AND they wanted to quit beforehand but just maybe didn’t feel like the resources were there. You can’t go into that relationship hoping to make them one less potential cancer victim. Life just doesn’t worth that way.

We say change is bad. Change takes away all that we are, morphing us into someone unrecognizable, right?

We forget that change doesn’t mean ditching something and replacing it with something else. Change can mean amassing and growing and continually adding.

Think of the first snowfall of the year, how you run into the yard overcome with pure childlike bliss. It’s just a dusting, but still you flop onto your back, spreading your legs and arms. With just one snow angel, the entire front lawn’s green again. But if we take that snowball mentality, we can roll it around until it grows and becomes into something bigger and better. Start small, grow big.

As a kid, that’s sort of what our lives are like. We don’t have much to change, and when we do, we don’t have much to show for it. It’s really easy to flop back and forth between Before and After without much consequence.

But sometimes change is necessary. Sometimes, when we take who we are and we add who we could be, we create something new and great.

I spent the last year saying to my friends, “Why can’t I get back to that seventeen year old girl? She had nothing and yet she had everything. Why can’t I find her?

The answer is simple, and though I know it now, I keep secretly waiting for it to change. I keep thinking I’ll wake up and say, “You can go back. You can be her.”

You can’t. Because change is not backwards. It’s forward motion, always. Unless you’re a character in a Harry Potter novel or Michael J. Fox and you have a Delorean, you cannot transport yourself back in time. You have to pedal up the hill.

I wish I could find every person on this campus who has lost hope and give them some. Like a package to wrap up and hand to them. I wish I could find my nineteen-year-old self, grab her firmly by the shoulders, look her in the eyes, and tell her that she can be happy. That one guy cannot erase that seventeen-year-old girl locked up inside of her.

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What I know now is that you cannot forever lose yourself. You can misplace a small part of you, but you only have to look deeper to unearth it. And once you do, you build on that person you were to become a better version of yourself. Smooth over the rough edges, the scraped knees and the paper cuts, to prepare yourself for the next demand. The next big change.