Sunday, July 31, 2011

a belated post about harry potter, who, by book reckoning, would be 31 today.

And that is a BIG DEAL, because you only turn 31 on the 31st once, Harry. So live it up.*

Latex balloons sold separately, people. Also, no matter how much I love these books,
I don't really want to eat cake off the hero's face.
In the past several weeks, a lot of folks having been reminiscing up and down about Harry Potter and the end of an era. I hear you. This is my two cents, and we'll pretend that I am not quite so late to the game (I didn't see the movie until this past week-- gasp!).

Like everyone else will say (and has said), these books shaped my life as a reader. Especially my life during the summertime. My favorite thing to do, for quite a while, was to bake in the sun on my parents' back deck with a Harry Potter book in my lap. And boy, do I have a lot of memories of books 5-7 coming out whilst working at Loucon, and the constant battle of trying to get kids (and counselors! and staffers!) not to spoil the goods for those of us who'd decided to wait until the summer was over... or at least not to read on the job. THAT'S HOW YOU KNOW A BOOK IS GOOD, folks.

There are certain benefits to working at a summer camp with like-minded people. For instance, this is how we celebrated the release of the final film:

The infamous Harry Potter Zipline!

It was a beautiful Saturday at Camp Loucon, and some awesome stuff went down. 
All photo credits to my friend Katie, whom I call Catie (she calls me Dzulie. It's a thing).

There was Quaffle throwing.
And Snitch catching.

And there were stunts!
It was the Best Thing Ever. I love camp people. And YAY for books that shape culture! Isn't it baffling?

(I totally caught the Snitch, fyi.)

*I hear there's some controversy over what year Harry was born (the horror!), but I'm sticking with the headstone that said James and Lily died in 1981. Just so's you know.

Friday, July 29, 2011


It is an all-out war in my house right now. A war between packing, writing, cleaning/laundry, reading, basic elements of survival (i.e. survival)* and GEEKtastics.
(*at first, I was going to put "i.e. eating" here, but "survival (i.e. survival)" cracked me up, and totally fits the theme, anyway.)

Geektastics: similar to gymnastics, in that one accomplishes harrowing feats of prowess not manageable by just anyone... only, in this version, it's the atrophied, costumed step-cousin of gymnastics. And all of the harrowing feats happen in your imagination (where else?).

Every once in a while, I ponder, in complete love and with no regret, "Where would I be if I hadn't married this particular person?" Well, surely not anywhere that I'd want to be more than right here, on this couch, snuggling with my blond, scruffly-headed husband, and TOTALLY GEEKING OUT to:

I have to admit, when I first saw this on The Office:

I doubted I'd ever watch. I mean, it was a Dwight joke. Then again, Dwight was all about LOST, too, and gracious knows how I devoured that one. So, here it is, world. My husband and I are currently drooling over a Sci Fi show (well, I'm drooling; he's far less dramatic), in wedded, nerdy bliss. Witness an exchange from earlier today:

Husby: I'm coming home early!
Me: Yay! Why?
Husby: I'm exhausted and I wasn't getting anything done, anyway. I need to take a nap.

**three episodes and no naps later**

Husby: Little did you know, I actually came home to watch Battlestar Galactica.
Me: *so proud*

Afterthought: We still need to pack, though.

(So much for my "less Netflix" goal.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

signing autographs.

Last night, my husband and I sifted through and signed 24 pieces of paper, which means... we have a mortgage. Oh yeah. One of those things. So grown-up.

Our future house! Complete with mortgage, kitchen and basement!
Three really great things about this:
  One, obviously:  we are homeowners (buhh?).
  Two: I would be lying if I said I didn't pretend that I was autpgraphing books and/or playbills the entire time. It satisfied my daydream-impulse and made me unreasonably happy.
  Three: the word "mortgage" still makes me think of Senor Cardgage. There are certain things I will never outgrow. Homestar = love.

Of course, the most fun/least productive thing about moving is the inevitable furniture daydream. And, even though we won't really have room for one, behold:  the courting chair.


Oh, gorgeous, glamorous courting chair.

How do I love (love!) thee?

Certainly not how I love human beings, but look! This one seats three!
(Disclaimer: the poem really goes downhill from here.)

I love thee in public in South America.
I love thee wrought from iron.

I love how your purpose stays the same, through all the different style-ron(s).
(No more rhyming.)

Oh, to talk with you, love.

To hold your hand, here where the S bends.

To hold your hand and tell you-- in the parlor,

or the backyard...

I'll act like I'm not staring straight into your ocean blues, or pearly grays
(I'm not picky).

(I am, however, drooling.)

You, darling, belong on my back deck.

Even the Elves are doing it.

Okay, that got a little creepy in the end. Note to self: no more love poems about chairs.
Pardon me while I collect myself. 

Anyway, it's true. Courting chairs make me want to write about love. This is huge, people. Huge. (They might even kiss.)


Monday, July 11, 2011

summer! plus: what do we really want?

Ah, the perks of living in this part of the country at this time of year. Hot sun, heavy air (am I the only soul alive who kind of likes humidity?). Humming cicadas, glinting fireflies. The vibrant, almost oppressive greenness of every living thing. As long as I remain well-equipped with bugspray, sunglasses and the occasional coating of SPF 15, I have no complaints.

It's a good thing I'm a summer baby, because we're about to move where it's even hotter, though only a hundred miles away. Funny how mountains and valleys do that, huh? Yes, yes. It's official. We bought a house, like grown-ups do. Chattanooga, here we come. Please, please, please let your restaurants be vegetarian-friendly, your proximity to Georgia less mystifying over time,* and your library as fabulous as Blount County's.

The south shore of Chattanooga in the summertime. Photo from this site.
{*When I was a kid in Kentucky, Georgia was this big, far-away place where they made Coca-Cola and had the Olympics, once. We would drive through it on our way to Florida every summer, and the majority of my opinion of the state went as such: Takes forever to get to. Takes forever to go through. And now, I'll be living, like, ten miles from the state line. This blows my mind, for some reason.}

Speaking of the South and the summertime, this past week at camp was likely the most fun I've ever had there, which, after 7 summers of working on staff and three summers of counseling, is saying A LOT. I mean, I spent one whole day dressed, to some degree, as a pirate. What's not to love about that?

Another highlight of this past week was finding myself in several conversations, both with teenagers and adults, about YA. At lunch one day, a fellow counselor mentioned something about Twilight, and how she had to attend a meeting on the basics of the story, so as to better assimilate to the people she works with in Eastern Kentucky who talk of NOTHING ELSE. I am not kidding. I asked her what she thought, and she said, essentially, "Meh, the first book was a pretty good read. About all I expected, you know, since it's just a young adult book."

Boy howdy, did the hair on my neck ever prickle at that. I said, "Hey, now. There is plenty of young adult lit that is not only better crafted than Twilight, but also better for humanity and far more important. Like The Hunger Games, for instance." And I was off. There was a girl at our table who'd read the books, too, and she nodded vigorously, smile plastered, as I talked about how awesome and integral and significant those books are. I wore my t-shirt the next day and started even more conversations.

My HG t-shirt, pretty much.
I bought it at a Borders in Chicago.
I noticed something else, too: there are a lot of teens out there who really disliked Mockingjay. One of the girls last week described it, pretty much, as "the author going crazy and killing characters for funsies." I'd heard this before, from a couple other kids, and it spurned a thought: What do teenagers really want out of the books they read? A squirmy, sick corner of my mind wants to say, "Flowers and bunnies! Cute boys and no bad things, ever!" But I know that's not true. When I was 16, that's not what I read. I was obsessed with Lord of the Rings, then. The only bunnies in that were food, and the only flower I remember was the elanor. There were no cute boys, in particular (unless you count Aragorn? Faramir?), and plenty of bad things.
I don't know what it is. I won't claim that Mockingjay was an enjoyable and fun romp through literature, by any means, but it was very good. Perhaps I am just a cold heart, but if you've been reading a series about rebellion and war, what do you really expect to find at the end of it?

Anywho, I suppose that's all for today's soap-box. What do you think kids really want to read? Or, heck, adults, too. What do any of us really want in a book? Personally, as much as I enjoy light fare and humor, I think I love the difficult stories more. Should I not? It makes me sad to think that some folks only want a fair-weather friend out of what they read.  I need both sides of the coin.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

oh, those summer goals.

I'm starting to realize that spending four weeks at camp is likely going to compromise those goals I set for the summer. Like, more than I thought. Not including, of course, the goal to be at camp. Hah. Update?:

1. To enjoy camp and let myself be there fully. Um, check. And getting even better. I do, however, plan to bring my notebook, just in case I find some time to write. Silly Julie, there is NO SUCH THING as extra time at camp, especially for writing. I knew this going in, but I printed out my draft and brought my colorful pens, just in case. And I will bring them along next week, too. Because I never learn.

2. When not at camp... ah. A perfect segue into this side-update: we are moving to Chattanooga. In August. I knew that we would be moving. I forgot that moving also means finding a house to live in, packing, enjoying the last morsels of the beautiful place we will be leaving (yes, this includes my beloved library. *sob*), and, you know. Not writing. Grrrowl. My time not at camp, thus far, as gone as such: be sick on the couch; house hunt. Oh my gosh I should just stop complaining.

3. I do need to start playing around with opening scenes. Okay, so technically, I've done this. I have a whole, like, three paragraphs. The downside is that I haven't touched them since starting camp, and am in an extreme state of self-doubt. Also, making excuses. Noticed?

4. Really enjoy my writing buddies. This one is easy to maintain, though it's hard to be cut off from communicating with them... or anyone, for that matter. As for SCBWI... that's still up in the air.

5. Exercise regularly. Ha. Well, running around camp has to count for something.

6. Keep up with my reading goals. Surprisingly, not too bad on this front. It's much easier to squeeze in a couple chapters of Graceling before bed than write a paragraph or two of my own. Perhaps that should be my new goal for next week: resist urge to read before bed. Write a few sentences instead. (We'll see.)

6a. Watch less TV. Done. We all excel at this during camp. (We are not, however, counting the two entire anime shows I watched when I was sick. That was legit. And Eden of the East was awesome and totally worth it.*)
* However, proceed at your own risk. There are a lot of naked cartoon men in that show (white squigglies only cover so much).

7. Clean the house... ? Who set this goal, my mom? I guess it's going to happen at some point, but it sure hasn't yet.

In other news! We're looking for a house, my hair is all summery and blond again (of its own volition--this happens every year), it was 95 in Chattanooga today, I have a Chaco tan, I can't stop signing (another thing that happens every year), and I almost swiped an old guitar out of a trashcan** today. (The smell is what held me back. There may or may not have been a dead mouse inside.)
** Completely unrelated thought: as kids, my friends and I wanted to start a band called Velvet Trashcans. It never really took off.

Oh, and one last thing: Happy 4th!

One of the best 4ths of July ever. I'm the Y. 
See you after this week!