The Texture Of Things

What We’re Reading

September 27th, 2007

KLee wanted to know when I had re-read Harry Potter 1-3. Well, I have done it. In fact, the tot and I are working on Goblet of Fire, and I think I understand better now why I had a hard time with and eventually bailed on this book. It’s going better the second time through. I will try to put together some thoughts when I get further along in this one.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of my daughter, the would-be reader.


Land That I Love

August 23rd, 2007

God Bless America,
teh internet,
and the United States Postal Service.

They’re here.


Now I just have to finish grading about 7 more essays and figure final grades for those 7 students, and then I’m free.


Moo Hoo Ha Ha Ha!

Harry, I Love You. Let’s Never Part Again,
Conclusion to “Essay on Harry Potter”

August 22nd, 2007

Go read this post first, then this post.

Also, if you are trying to avoid spoilers, this post and the one before it are safe. The first one is not.

It took a couple days for the afterglow of Deathly Hallows to fade, then I found myself rummaging through my bookshelf for books 1-3. I’ve moved since reading the first three, so I didn’t expect to find them easily. (Books 4-7 are within arm’s reach.) As it turns out, I cannot find them at all.

So I did what any other self-respecting book junkie would do: I ordered new copies. They should be here this week, just in time for me to be done grading my summer-semester-from-hell but before the crush of a new term.

Ah, Harry Potter.

I can’t decide if I’m a little embarrassed that I’m diving headlong into the series from the start again (because, Good Lord, did I or did I not just spend the last chunk of my life reading them?) or if I’m acting on something a bestest friend said the day we went to see the Order of the Phoenix movie.

SuperAwesomeFriend: What does it matter if you [hurry through/skip parts of] a book? If it’s a good book, you know you’re going to read it again. If it’s not, you saved yourself from wasting your time.
Me: Wait. What?
SAF: Listen, you dope, do I need to write it down for you?
Me: Um, maybe.

Okay, those last lines were made up, but I’m really just going for the gist here.

She’s right. The books were good. I missed a big chunk of book 4, plus it’s been ages since I’ve read the first three, plus I might have rushed a bit through 5, 6, and 7. You know, just a bit.

So, I’m going to re-read them, and I’m anticipating a different reading experience. I expect I’ll be able to read at whatever pace I want, savoring plot points differently now that I know how it all ends. I don’t know what to expect as to the pace and urgency of the last 3 books on a second read, but it’ll be fun to find out. Or, I’ll just quit after Azkaban. That one is, after all, my favorite of the first 3. In the end, who cares besides me? No one. Except maybe the other Harry Potter devotees. If there are any out there.

By Way of an Apology,
“Essay on Harry Potter” continued

August 21st, 2007

Go read this post first. It’s, like, Part One, or something.

Also, if you are trying to avoid spoilers, this post is safe. The previous one is not.

Somewhere in the middle of book 6, I tried to go to bed because it was late and I had to work the next day, and let me just say right here that I know what a mistake that was. I was young and foolish. I laid in bed forEVER trying to settle down and go to sleep, and that is not ever a problem I suffer from – just ask HG.

For instance, a typical bedtime conversation…
HG: ” ‘Night honey.”
Me: ” ‘Night. Hey. What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?”
HG: “Hot, slight chance of rain in the p.m. I think I’m gonna — ”
Me: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz :snork: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

So the next day I began plotting how and when to get my copy of Deathly Hallows. I simply couldn’t consume these books fast enough and knowing that there was another one waiting for me was eating me from the inside out.

It was some days before I could steal a minute at lunch (okay, 30) to go to the bookstore and buy it. I don’t know how to explain this part, and I think I probably don’t have to dwell too long on the purchase other than to say that I have grown some empathy about the frenzy. From the moment I had a plan to buy the book, I felt slightly panicked. The buzz grew in my ears as I got closer to carrying out the purchase, as I found my way through the bookstore, until I had a copy in my hands*.

I about died that there was a line at the checkout, and I quite literally wanted to throw up when the most efficient cashier left the registers right as I should have been called next. That is how bad it was. I felt queasy to be so close to it, but not swallowed by it yet. It was almost illegal to want something this much.

Of course, you know I read the first two chapters in my car before heading back to work, right?

I apologize for every time I scoffed at the hardcore fans for re-reading the first 6 books before the release of this book, for the release parties, for the lines and the wristbands and the waiting up all night for it. For me, I merely had to find a copy (oddly, it was not as easy as heading up to my local grocery store), but for those who read the books on time – egad, my heart goes out to you all. You are stronger people than I am, to wait almost patiently for so long for the conclusion to the story. I cannot imagine what that was like.

My experience, on the other hand, is something more like what future readers will have – an entire series waiting for them, one after another, until the very end – and that was a downright juicy reading experience, for those last 3 books. I hope the tot and her generation will enjoy it this much.

This is coming from a woman who had a stack of essays to grade and DH to read when the power went out last weekend. So, we lit candles and hunkered down for a long night of no power, and what did I do? Did I grade a few papers by candlelight? No. Don’t be ridiculous. I read Harry Potter all night. We put the tot to bed, HG went to bed, the power came back on at 11:50 p.m., and upon his return to bed, HG asked me, “Coming to bed?”

I replied, “In 250 pages.”

He thought I was kidding. I was not kidding. And at 2:30 a.m. I finally drifted in to bed, and unlike the night I chose bed over finishing book 6, I laid there quietly happy for about 10 minutes before achieving :snork:.

It was a restful night’s sleep.

*Confession: I am a cheapskate. This is why I don’t buy hardcover books – they cost too much. So, the fact I was buying this in hardcover rather than a) waiting for paperback or b) waiting for a copy at the library is testimony to how affected I was. I mean, I stood there in the store with that little voice in my head saying, “Oh great! The sticker says 30% off! Wait. What do hardcovers go for these – Holy Sweet Mother of Bob $34.99?! Who the crunchy hell pays that kind of money for a book?!” But it was barely audible over the “Harry. Potter. Must. Read. Harry. Potter.” And you know which voice won out.

Essay on Harry Potter

August 20th, 2007

I should clarify and come clean a little about where I’ve been while not blogging lately. Sure, I’ve been working a pile of hours at my mom’s store. Sure, I’ve been teaching an 8-week Composition course*, filled with students who are, excuse me, ass holes. (Class ends Tuesday. I cannot freakin’ wait.) Sure, I have a three-year-old and a husband and all the sundry tasks that come with those. But really it is important for me to disclose that I also kind of fell headlong into Harry Potter.

In this trio of blog posts, I will**:
a. give some history about me and Harry Potter
b. tell an amusing anecdote
c. make an apology
d. admit my devotion

My first HP experience, I was a bystander. A tutor, more specifically. My student was enrolled in a Children’s Lit course at the college where I now teach, and toward the end of the semester, she had to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was freshly out in paperback. I opted not to read it with her, and this was okay with my student. Her intended audience for the final essay was a person who had not read the book, so this positioned me to help her work on interpretation from outside the story and on capturing only the necessary summary. Halfway through this tutoring experience, I decided I had to read the book, but I didn’t pick it up until just before the movie came out.

If I know one thing about myself, it is that I like to read a book before I see the movie. Since I had already wanted to read Sorcerer’s Stone, I finally grabbed a copy when the trailers started showing on TV and I read it fairly quickly. Not blazingly so, but I was enchanted and I was happy that I finally picked it up. Then I saw the movie, and while I was disappointed in young Daniel Radcliffe (he didn’t match my imagined Harry), I think I fell in love with the overall story. It happens I was also in a Roald Dahl kick at the time, so by its genre and premise alone the story was already positioned for success with me.

Along the way to the third movie, I followed the same course: book comes out in paperback, movie is about to come out, amy reads and loves book, amy sees and loves movie.

In fact, I loved book 3 so much, I grabbed book 4, Goblet of Fire, as soon as it hit the shelves in paperback. But dig this. I couldn’t get into it. I tried. I read about 2/3 of it and pooped out. When the movie was about to be released, I didn’t even finish the book – I just saw the movie with no idea how it ended.

By the way. I make no guarantee that I won’t spoil some aspect of any of the 7 books from here on out. If you’re trying to preserve your Harry-Potter-virgin-ears, now would be a good time to go. Come back when you’ve read the series or no longer care about having it spoilt for ya.




Okay, are we still here? Great.

Can you imagine it? I had no idea Voldemort would return to the flesh, I had no idea Cedric would die, I had no idea that Mad-Eye was an impostor. Holy crap, it was a good movie. Still, I couldn’t motivate myself to go back and read the book, and though I have now read books 5, 6, and 7, to this day I have never read all of 4.

Look, I’m not proud, okay? I’m just trying to be honest here.

Order of the Phoenix came out in, what? 2004? 2005? Somewhere in there because in 2005, HG, a 14.5-month-old tot, and I traveled to a friend’s cabin for a long weekend and were treated to listening to her b!tch about that beast of a book. “Harry’s such a whiny little wuss. Will he ever shut up with the whining already?” And so on. I got the idea that if I couldn’t get through book 4, book 5 was maybe not even worth the effort. My friend wanted me to read it, though, so she sent me home with her copy and she moved on to book 6. (She later raved about book 6, which is interesting for me, later in the story.)

You can imagine that I brought the book home, buried it on my bookcase, and didn’t even consider reading it until, you guessed it, the movie for book 5 was looming and the release of book 7 was whipping into a category 5 frenzy.

I don’t have a whole lot of time to read, so I took it on vacation with me up to my friend’s cabin. (It’s kind of an annual thing.) I picked at the book here and there, and once I was about 100 pages in, I was toast. I couldn’t put the damn thing down. And where my friend hated 5, I found myself loving it. Yes, it was wordy. Yes, Harry is whiny. Yes, it lacks action. But isn’t that the point of that book? Isn’t the thrust of the book to show his internal struggles? It’s the Empire Strikes Back of the story. It’s Hamlet’s soliloquy and the set up for Ophelia’s death. It’s the heart of the bildungsroman – the point when the struggle turns inward, which spurs the character to action, toward his epiphany, toward his transition from a child who is out of control of his world to an adult who controls not only his action and his surroundings, but who has found his power.

GAH! Can you see I loved this book?

As an aside, while I was reading it, I found myself imagining it in a nearly monochromatic palette – blues, greys, blacks, with bright spots of golden white for the prophecies, and little other color. Pretty much like the movie was shot. FWIW, I do enjoy me some Daniel Radcliffe nowadays.

I think I was only halfway through book 5 when it hit me that I did not own a copy of book 6, and upon that realization, I was positively twitchy. I needed to know book 6 would be waiting for me; I knew I would need to dive headlong into 6 as soon as I finished 5, but I could not slow my progress on 5 for anything. I managed to pull myself away from the book to order 6, but those were a few torturous moments, to be sure.

Book 6 – well, I also loved it, which was confusing to me. Two of my IRL HP friends were diametrically opposed on books 5 and 6. One hated 5 and loved 6, the other loved 5 and hated 6. I expected to be on one side or the other, but I loved both, though 6 not quite as much. It is, however, a necessary book, and I am salivating for the movie, just as I was salivating for Deathly Hallows about 25 pages into Half Blood Prince.

But, I get ahead of myself. Remember how I was nonchalantly picking through book 5 while I was on vacation? Before I got hooked? That was the day Deathly Hallows came out.

There I was, in a cabin in the woods with my friend who had read all the HP books as they came out, who had pre-ordered her copy of DH before she realized that she’d be out of town when it arrived. Though she tried to keep it to herself, she was practically quaking with anticipation the night before its release.

The next day, she and her fiance went up to the Piggly Wiggly**** to get some items for dinner, and she walked in with a copy of DH. Her fiance was shaking his head and I was kind of with him on this.

Me: “You have a copy waiting for you at home and you bought one at the Piggly Wiggly?”
Her: “They had 5 copies left! I couldn’t believe it! So yeah, I bought one.”
Me (internally): Piggly Wiggly? Good Lord, who can’t wait to read HP so bad that they buy it at the freeking grocery store?

I will resume in the next post…

*How do you make a 15-week Composition course suck (more)? Do it in 8 weeks. In the summer.

**This forecasting structure is my homage to my current students, who cannot seem to write a long essay to save their hides/lives/grades and who are incapable of any thesis statement other than the following: “In this essay, I will discuss a problem and a solution about global warming/eating disorders/obesity/capital punishment/every other topic my teacher has forbidden me to write about.” Ah, my dear students, I will be forever pissed at you for ruining my summer. Good luck next semester!

***This will mean little to anyone but myself, but I want to put this here because I want to remember the HP experience for when the tot is old enough to start reading the series.

****Shop the Pig.

Would I Fetch More if I Were a Zombie?

July 2nd, 2007

I’m kind of into dead bodies lately. I just read Stiff by Mary Roach, and I recommend it highly to those who are not squeamish and who are curious about dead bodies and what happens to them once they have become dead.

So you can imagine that when I saw this quiz at KLee’s, I had to go do it. Turns out I’m worth more that I thought I would be. Cool.

$5590.00The Cadaver Calculator – Find out how much your body is worth


What I Wish I Knew

September 18th, 2006

I wish I knew if S. or the others in her office have begun to get close to a diagnosis for the tot. S. has taken video of one of our sessions and, naturally, a ton of notes about the tot’s early and sudden arrival (a story for another day), about her severe anemia (another story), about her early eating problems (geez, I have a lot of writing to do), family history, and so on. But she won’t be able to present the tot’s case to her colleagues until the October meeting, so I’m hanging in a limbo of sorts.

Two weeks ago, S. asked me if I had read Carol Stock Kranowitz’s The Out-of-Sync Child, and I told her I hadn’t yet but wanted to. She brought me a lender copy and its sidekick, The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun, last Tuesday. They are both written to parents and teachers, detailing Sensory Integration Dysfunction, its symptoms, the importance of seeking therapy, therapies, etc. Over the last two days, I plowed through the first one. I read too fast, though I’ll try to write a post about what in it fits us and what doesn’t in the coming days. The second one I haven’t gotten to yet.

At the time of our conversation, I thought S. was sharing these books because there have lots of great sensory building activities. I got the impression that she had read these books just recently and thought they were an educational read, akin to me choosing to read a text about teaching poetry: I teach college composition, but it might be interesting to see how a different genre can be taught. Related, but not our area.

Then my mother said something to me last night that struck a chord, a loud, reverberating chord. Maybe S. gave us these books to prepare me to hear a diagnosis of Sensory Integration Dysfunction. I was a bit startled. Why hadn’t that occurred to me? Of course. And then I was relieved, honestly. That diagnosis is one I’ve anticipated and I have readied myself to hear it. Last night I finished the book with the flavor of this diagnosis in my head, and I went to bed thinking that in the other room I had a child on the threshold of a diagnosis, one we are effectively already treating with texture play and anxiety coping exercises.

Oh, what a full night of sleep will do! We all slept soundly last night, by coincidence alone, I’m sure. And then we woke up, Husband Guy went to work, the tot got up and fought me about breakfast, I made my exasperated plea to the caffeine gods that if I could have my coffee injected directly into my brain, I could totally deal with a whiny toddler or at least not care. In other words, all was right with the world.

Until S. called. She asked me about the book, and I went on and on and on about the things in the book I could see in myself and in the tot, especially the tot. I told her how the tot has recently begun carrying puff balls (soft little crafting pom poms that she likes to play with) in her hand and using her balled up fists or the backs of her hands to touch or manipulate things, “much like they described in the book,” I said.

And right about here is where S. backed up. “You saw that in the book?” She sounded like she was pretty sure I just confused a Stephen Colbert light saber fight for one that actually happened in a Star Wars movie. I related more from the section of the book that I believed it came from and as it was spilling from my mouth, I realized that probably my first impression of S.’s interest in sharing the book was right. S. isn’t laying groundwork to prepare me for an SI Dysfunction diagnosis. She later confirmed, in so many words, her reticence to diagnose it or anything, and that’s when I really wished I could get the coffee to my brain faster.

So for one night, one lovely night, I thought I finally knew what I’ve wanted to know for about a year: why won’t this kid feed herself? Why is she so fussy about wet things, spilled things, messy things?

It was a nice night. I’ll miss it.

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