Gryffindorable or Ravenclawesome?

The summer I was 19 I worked at a library on Chautauqua Lake, in Western New York, where everyone else had read and raved about the Harry Potter series. I knew a teensy bit of the first couple books because I sometimes sat in my little brother’s room as the stories were read to him before bed. (I still remember the chills I felt during the scene in Chamber of Secrets where they find Mrs Norris.)

But the biggest exposure came at the Library.

As the various copies of Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban were checked in and out and the upcoming release of Goblet of Fire meant a bevy of holds being put on all four books, my coworkers urged me to begin reading the series. I took RW’s hardcover copy of Sorcerer’s Stone from his bookshelf and halfway through bought my own paperback, which I still have, and occasionally carry with me for good luck.

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[This Book is the Property of The Half Blood Kirstin]

The day my reserved copy of book four came in, I had just finished Prisoner of Azkaban (to this day my favourite of the series) on my lunch break, sitting on the huge stone fountain in the middle of the square upon the edge of which the library stands. I finished Goblet of Fire a few nights later, at 4:00 in the morning, with tears streaming down my face.

There are many such tales of my first readings, third listenings, premiere week viewings when the movies came out, foreign language editions, and myriad collectibles based on props from the movies and characters in the books.

The story of Harry and his friends brings a kind of hope, courage, and entertainment I haven’t found in many other places.

We now have the further magic of Fantastic Beasts to enjoy and look forward to, and the various backgrounds and histories offered by Rowling’s website Pottermore to help fill in the gaps in story and character, answering unasked questions we have about lesser characters as well as mysteries solved about the main ones, and of course, sorting us into our Hogwarts and Ilvermorny Houses.

As the world moves forward, social media and the internet do too. Sometimes for the better, but not always. I do not care for the new Pottermore. I don’t go on there much any more, but I do re-sort occasionally just to see how they think I fall in the House array.

Since the summer of 2000, I have always considered myself a Gryffindor. Until, that is, I read Deathly Hallows and discovered the way into Ravenclaw Tower. After all those years I finally knew where I belonged! To get in you got the chance to Learn Something. As a total Hermione when it came to school work this made me exceedingly happy.

Over the years, as I got farther away from my school days, and I faced other difficult life things, I shifted back towards my original assessment. I was a Gryffindor.

Medieval Hermione

Medieval Hermione reads about it in Pennsic: A History.

My husband, clever and full of tidbits of odd knowledge, is a staunch Ravenclaw. We had a pretty well balanced household, and eventually determined our son would probably end up as a Hufflepuff (though sometimes the Slytherin peeks in). I got to take over Nic’s Gryffindor scarf (made for him by his grandmother who simply knew he liked that Harry Potter stuff), and I promised to make him a Ravenclaw scarf when I could afford the yarn. When I sorted into Ravenclaw for the first time when the New Pottermore opened, I was puzzled and then contented to think I’d finally found the right house – that my DH assessment had been right afterall.

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Matchy Matchy Ravenpuffs.

It meant having to make two Blue and Bronze scarves, though, and that might take a little more time and effort: We’ve been together six years and I finally found the right color yarn a month ago. 

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There is enough for one single short scarf. But this might actually be a good thing.

 

On Pottermore, I have been sorted into Ravenclaw twice. And Gryffindor six times. Slytherin and Hufflepuff only one time each. Most recently I have been made a Gryffindor twice in a row.

I think the mix of results makes me a Gryffinclaw or a Ravendor. But if made to choose just one I am constantly at odds between the two main options. While these options are based on a fictional world and shouldn’t cause one quite this much stress, as I could just choose whichever one I want, or none, or all of them, HP has been a deeply important part of my life for the past 17 years, and not having my House settled actually bothers me quite a bit.

 

As I sit here in my Hot Topic Ravenclaw pocketed sweatpants and my ThinkGeek Ravenclaw Bathrobe, I wonder what Godric’s old hat would really say about me.

At time of publishing, I have just ordered myself a Hogwarts Express ticket case for my new phone and a Gryffindor keychain.

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The End.

 

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The Scar: A Harry Potter Alternate Universe

Harry Potter has been part of my life for 17 years. Interesting how numbers can be important. A witch or wizard comes of age at 17.

 

And after 17 years of Harry Potter, yesterday I realized that my son is exactly the age Harry was when Lily and James died.

 

This got me thinking, once more, about all the things that scare me about parenthood, primarily, What would happen to my baby if something happened to me and Nic?  

 

I envisioned the scene at Godric’s Hollow. Voldemort walking through the broken Fidelius Charm and into the Potter’s home. I saw Lily pick up toddler Harry and race up the stairs as James tried to hold Voldemort off without his wand.

I grabbed my light-up holly and phoenix feather wand and carried it with me all day, even inside my oversized handbag while out shopping at the grocery store with C, even knowing it’s a kid’s toy, containing two aaa batteries, instead of being made of willow, or being good for charm work. Not exactly a match for a dark wizard’s unforgivable curses. It was a psychological security measure.

 

I thought about what would happen . . . like, even if a dark wizard didn’t show up, what if . . .

 

What if there really had been a car crash like Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had always told Harry that Lily and James had died in?

 

I thought about my sister, and how, thankfully, she’s about as unDursleyish as I am. Though she’s got two kids of her own, I know that she would do her best to take good care of my baby, raise him like her own, give him everything she could and make sure he knows he is deeply loved by his whole family.

 

So, what if that had been the case with Harry? What if his aunt and uncle had cared more?

 

What if Harry ‘s cool aunt & uncle had raised him on elaborate tales of magical heritage and a narrow escape from an evil dark wizard after his parents died . . . in a car crash.

 

The perfect opposite of what happened in the series. Harry as an ordinary boy whose loving aunt and uncle told him bedtime stories about a wizarding world to cheer him up as he grew up parentless?

 

I discussed this with my sister all afternoon.

 

If anything happens to me and Nic, Bettie and Oslowe know what to do.

 

And now, without further ado, my rewrite of an excerpt from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

 

Chapter One. The Boy Who Lived.

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number 4 Privet Drive, were perfectly normal, if normal were a thing that actually existed. They were above average people who might be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they were fascinated by that sort of thing.

. . . Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley’s sister, but they hadn’t met for several years, because the country was just too big and neither of them had the budget for regular visits.

. . . When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the bright, cloudless Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the blue sky outside to suggest that a profoundly personal tragedy would soon be gripping news readers all over the country.

. . .

Chapter Two.

Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had been woken by the police bringing their nephew up the front step, but Privet Drive had hardly changed at all.

. . . Only the photographs on the mantlepiece really showed how much time had passed. Ten years ago, there had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach ball wearing different-coloured bobble hats – but Dudley Dursley was no longer a baby, and now the photographs showed a large, blond boy riding his first bicycle, beside his dark haired cousin, both grinning with matching ripped trouser knees from where they’d fallen one after another around the same corner as they learned how to ride. There was no sign that the second boy hadn’t always lived there.

Harry Potter was asleep at the moment, but not for long. His Aunt Petunia was awake and it was her voice which made the first sound of the day.

“Up, boys! Get up!”

Harry woke with a start. His aunt knocked on the door again.

“Come on, get up!”

Harry heard her walking down the stairs and towards the kitchen, and then the sound of the frying pan being put on the cooker. He rolled on to his back and tried to remember the dream he had been having. It had been a good one. There had been a huge fire engine in it. He had a funny feeling he’d had the same dream before.

 

. . . Harry had always been small and skinny for his age. . . He had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair and bright-green eyes. He wore round glasses. The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead which was shaped like a bolt of lightning. He had had it as long as he could remember and the first question he could ever remember asking his Aunt Petunia was how he had got it.

“In the attack by the dark wizard Voldemort when your parents were killed,” she had said. “I’m sure you’ll have lots of questions.” And she hugged him.

 

 

 

 

Rewritten from:
Rowling, J.K.. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 1997. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

 

 

 

I’ve made mousse au chocolat, so if you’re feeling at all the way I am, come over and have some. Professor R.J. Lupin had it right, you know.

40% Bagel

Being a stay at home mom is hard. I often feel completely unproductive because the results of raising a child are Long Term and not always visible day to day. This is the absolute best, easiest, and hardest job I have ever had.

I am completely responsible for a mostly dependent human life, you guys!

It’s sometimes easy to forget how to be a grown up. As a Parent I have to BE A RESPONSIBLE ADULT All the Time. But it’s hard to also actively be the kind of adult I was in my 20s and early 30s.

Today, however, I wanted to share my morning productivity.

 

Today I have

  • Made coffee
  • Done Pilates (Beginner Mat Workout)
  • Showered
  • Kept my son safe and moderately entertained
  • Fed the Dog Twice
  • Fed myself. And my kid!
  • Got my kid down for his nap
  • Pin Curled my hair
  • Made a cup of tea
  • Made a real sandwich
  • And I made a batch of Bagels for the first time in my life

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(If you go by my pregnancy diet…my son is 40% bagel. Carbs were the main thing I could eat without feeling totally sick for the first few months he was in utero.)

This afternoon I will:

  1. Eat all the Bagels (well on my way to this goal)
  2. Vacuum (haven’t done this yet)
  3. Make Macarons! (another first!)

 

A Vision of Ourselves

Dear Husband,

By the time you come home

we have spent the day

refuting all the compliments

you now rain on us

 

We have spent half the morning trying to keep the baby out of the dog’s water bowl and the other half trying to find clothes that halfway fit because not everyone can make it through a pregnancy in fifteen pounds and our bodies are not ready for size four. We spend our energy fighting our fear and regret that we’ve done everything wrong and our horrific jealousy of our friends who seem to have gotten everything right.

Our tired eyes are glazed with the miracle that overfills our hearts and the bags beneath them are testament to our sleepless hours comforting our cold or hungry or frightened children until they fall happily back to sleep and we lay awake wondering if it will stick or if we should rouse ourselves to walk down the hall to the bathroom.

Unfinished artistry lays on the shelf where it goes untouched for days or weeks. Five minutes to sit and write is taken up with dead batteries and slow servers and a scramble to find a pen.

The living dream is everything we ever asked for. But it is everything else, too. And just because it’s perfect doesn’t mean it isn’t hard.

Hungry

By the time I’m awake enough to make breakfast, Bebe is usually fast asleep in my lap. Breakfast turns into brunch and lunch happens around 2:00pm. Which is good because Nerdboy has a long drive home from work and dinner is sometimes a little later than we’d all like.

(Just kidding, Bebe gets to eat whenever he wants.)

Smile

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Pain is temporary ~ Glory is forever ~ Chicks dig scars.

 

Einstein

I like a good theme.

 

1995 – London – Museum of Moving Images (gift shop)

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2000 – Washington, DC

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2011 – Los Angeles – Griffith Observatory

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Sleeping Patterns

My baby loves being held while he sleeps. I’m glad of this because I love holding him. But sometimes I need to do things like go to the bathroom and I prefer to do that alone. So I try to put him down and he wakes up and I pick him back up and he falls immediately to sleep again and so I put him down and he wakes up and finally I place him in the cradle in our dark bedroom and he stays asleep and I go potty and we all live happily ever after.

Saturday in the Kingdom 

I am surrounded by three sleeping boys:

The little milk-face in my lap.

The canine cuddled on the couch across the living room.

And the Dad, sleeping in our bed upstairs.
His coffee gets cold on the kitchen counter. Mine gets cold in front of me, forgotten as usual as I read.

I am the only one awake as the sun glimmers in the haze on a beautifully March morning. It’s still below freezing outside, but there is hope. A potential 60* for my birthday next week. And, eventually, summer.
Le chien gets down and paces some more. He hasn’t been out yet. 
I look down from my phone into this little muffin’s sleeping face and admire, as always, his eyelashes, brows, funny little hairline. I can’t believe how much he’s grown since he was born.
Milkface wakes up, his great big eyes looking around us.
The dog gets up again and walks upstairs to inform his boy he needs to go out. Or perhaps to lay back down and guard his human’s sleeping form.
Milkface smiles, cozy against my breast.
It’s Saturday in the kingdom. All is calm. All is right.

Mornings

After I pour the half and half into my reheated cup of coffee, I pass by the pack n play to make sure he’s breathing before I sit back down at the computer.

The dog, my beloved fluffy companion, is curled on the couch by the window, awaiting some attention which has been seriously lacking the past few months.

It is still very cold outside and snowed a bit yesterday. I’m wearing a heavy open fronted sweater over one of the two borrowed maternity shirts I wear almost every day. They gained favour by opening down the front enough to make feeding easy.

The baby wakes and reaches for the stars hanging over him in the play crib. He’s grown quite adept at aiming for them.

I think about the first time I saw him. I’d been looking at my husband as he held my hand. With a sense of confusion at the voices telling me to turn my head the other way, I did so, and there was this messy muddy baby covered in goo. I’d forgotten what the purpose of this stage of the crucible was. We’d been at the hospital so long that I’d forgotten why we’d gone there. I didn’t expect anything out of the experience except another step in the journey that had taken up nearly all of the three days following Christmas. After forty-three and half hours of contractions, the later of which were at an intensity that was literally off the chart, three hours of unsuccessful pushing, and the final decision that if he wasn’t able to come out on his own we’d have to go in and get him, it was hard for me to remember there was a bright side to it all. When the surgery was done, I’d go to the recovery room, then Nic and I would go home, just the two of us. Business as usual. I had completely forgotten that we had a very good chance of going home with somebody else. I’d forgotten we were there to get our baby. But there he was. Messy but alive.

A minute later they brought him, cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket, to my husband while they stitched me up. At one point they laid him down next to my head. I couldn’t hold him yet. But I remember his eyes. The deepest, darkest blue I’d ever seen. With lashes thick and dark. And so, so beautiful.

Then they took him to the nursery and, after they were done closing the rift in my abdomen, wheeled me back upstairs to my room in the maternity ward.

At around 8:00pm they brought him to me. I’ll never forget that vision: Tiny angel in a Christmas Tree hat, swaddled tightly over a little kimono shirt and a Huggies diaper bearing Winnie the Pooh. His face glowed when he heard me speak to him. And then he was in my arms.

I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t even stand. I was full of medications and anesthetics and completely worn out. My dream of keeping him in the room with me every night was dashed. He could have stayed, but I knew that as exhausted and delirious as I was it wouldn’t have been safe. So after he nursed for the first time and I held him for a while, he went away and I tried to sleep. I kept waking up. It was horrid being alone, in the darkness. Falling asleep after all those hours of pointless labor should have been easy. I kept waking. Occasionally a nurse would come in to check my vitals. Finally at around 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning he came back. It was like in His Dark Materials when Pan had been too far away – that pang in my heart, almost painful, finally eased.

At some point, during one of his midnight visits to me, he was placed in my arms, the nurse left, and instead of feeding, he laid his head on top of my bosom and went so happily to sleep. One time I heard him crying all the way up the hall. Once he was in the room I called to him, and his face split into radiance and he stopped crying immediately. He knew me. He knew me!

 

***

A shower and a few diaper changes later, I sit eating two left over slices of pepperoni pizza and thinking about my postpartum body. The baby cries and I give him his lunch as well.

I gained about 55 lbs during our pregnancy, 20 more than the outer limit of what I was *supposed to* gain. I think of my friends who had at this point already lost more than they’d gained. I still have 19 lbs to go. I try to remember that some of those women were horribly sick their entire pregnancies and I was fortunate enough to have a relatively easy one. I try to remember that every body is different just as every pregnancy is different. I think of my cousins and friends who had easy, short labors, those who have two or three kids, and I wonder why I didn’t get to experience that. Two pregnancies, only one baby to show for it. A three week bleed with a ten hour laborious miscarriage at 11 weeks. A 43.5 hour labor, three hours of pushing, and still I needed a c-section to get my baby out. I think about this and remember: afterwards we were both safe; we were both healthy and, most importantly, Alive.

I look at this little milk-sotted face, sleeping against my breast, (he smiles in his sleep, his eyes slightly open), and I know that while I could never do it again, it was in some way All Worth It. I get jealous of friends who got healthy pregnancies on the first try. I think of those ten months of trying before we had a successful healthy low-risk pregnancy. The tests and exams and poking and prodding and fruitless perfect lab results leading to more questions and fewer answers. I remember the tears, the frustration, the agony, the guilt, the wondering – why couldn’t I succeed in this? And then I look again at this little face. He wrinkles it in his sleep and I wonder if in his dreams he remembers his harrowing journey to reach us. I kiss the wrinkles away and tell him it’s okay and that I’m right here.

Will I ever forget our trials? Probably not. I know with all my heart I could not be looking at This face if it had worked out any other way. I start to lower him into the pack n play to nap and he grasps at me. We sit back down together, his little head resting on Mommy’s Magical Dinner Pillows ™, these ridiculous breasts that finally have a purpose.

He turned two months on Sunday. My little sugar pea. Our sweet and perfect son. My whole magnificent world.

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Our little miracle. photo by Jenny Rader, brilliant and devoted nurse

 

 

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