Happy 20th Anniversary, Harry Potter!

I always wanted to be a Gryffindor, but the truth was always there under the surface, and it was much more simple. I love people too much, and I care about everyone’s feelings.
It’s actually been Hufflepuff all the way.
I got the first three Harry Potter books the day that “The Prisoner of Azkaban” came out – September 8, 1999, apparently. I tore through them in a short amount of time, and my world was changed. It led me to internet forums and early chat rooms for fans, it led me to create my own fan fiction, it led me to create my own fiction unrelated.”Hedwig” was part of my first email address. It brought me new friends when I moved to a new place. It brought me a sense of belonging that stuck with me until I was ready to ‘graduate Hogwarts’ and move out into the big wide world on my own two feet, and create new worlds for other people to delve into.
I often think about JK Rowling, on a plane or seated in an outdoor cafe, writing with cheap half-empty ballpoint pens, scrawling on napkins when she ran out of paper, and writing just to write – even when she was on welfare. She didn’t write to get herself out of welfare, but that’s exactly what happened. She wrote because she loved her story and her characters and was driven to get it done. And she’s not perfect… And the series isn’t perfect, but it’s arguably damn good. So good that it’s common household vocabulary now, and it’s the “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” of a whole new generation. Harry and Voldemort in the Forest. Hogwarts, when the walls fell.
What’s your Patronus?
What’s your wand made of?
Which House are you in?
Everybody knows their own answers to these questions. And we always will.
Twenty years later, many of us are grown and some are even raising their own kids on the world Rowling built. It’ll keep on keepin’ on.
I’m hoping to finally make it to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios this fall, and taste my first butterbeer and find my wand waiting for me, and probably cry, and my Hufflepuff husband will be there with me, and we’ll probably have a lot of feelings about it all.
Something something about Hogwarts always being there to welcome us home, something something.
Cheers, everyone.

DIS IS HAMMAWEENS! Costumes Required.

This morning I got off the train in the Loop and got in line at my regular Dunkin Donuts. Behind me was Wednesday Addams. Ahead of me was an 80’s pop star. When I arrived at the office, I found Wakko Warner, Dot Warner, a Shark, the Boat The Shark Ate Half Of, Ocelot from Metal Gear Solid, Clark Kent, and a guy dressed as a busted coffee machine (an in-joke because the big fancy one in the office is constantly breaking).

It should be noted that all of the aforementioned humans are Grown Ups. And all of them have a ‘real’ job at an office in downtown Chicago. And all of them wore costumes to work today.

Tomorrow is Halloween (duh) and although I won’t be trick or treating, I am pausing to reflect on how awesome it is that one of the ways we celebrate this holiday is by publicly playing dress up. As a cosplaying nerd AND a theatre person AND a historical reenactor, my daily desire to dress up in costume/period accurate clothing/etc is strong. Very strong. My “normal” brain, when faced with the news of a costume contest at work, said: “Wear something easy and comfortable. You have SO MANY costumes to choose from. My costumer brain said: “QUICK MAKE SOMETHING TOTALLY NEW FROM SCRATCH!” My cosplayer brain said: “Smaug hasn’t been out for a walk in a while. Maybe wear Smaug to work?”

It was a discussion my brain(s) had ongoing for, like, two whole weeks. Round and round about what to wear I went, and happy at the chance to dress up and impress my coworkers at the same time. I almost went with something comfy (my Eeyore onesie was calling to me, precioussss) but my cosplay brain won out and Smaug came out of storage. 

Granted, I could not wear Smaug on the train for my commute – rush hour on the Brown Line isn’t exactly spacious. But I arrived at work early and changed diligently into my dragon dress. It turned out to be pretty comfy – more than I remembered from when I first debuted it at C2E2 in 2014. The only thing was my skirts kept getting caught in my rolly chair, but overall I felt it was an acceptable handicap. 

I am proud to say I won Best Homemade Costume in the contest, though I’m told I was also nominated in the Most Creative category. My prize is – I kid you not – an Iron Man mini-fridge. 

I am a sucker for bizarre nerd merch. 

It was nice to be recognized for the hard work I put into my costume, and it was nice that a ton of people in my office whom I have never spoken to before felt comfortable approaching me to ask how I made it, how long it took, where I got the idea from, etc. But more even than that it was nice to dress up and wear this costume out, to be one of many costumed folk in the office, to enjoy the silliness and fun of costumes in general and celebrating Halloween a day early. It reminded me of being younger, painstakingly planning The Best Halloween Costume Ever each and every year, thrilling at the chance to wear whatever I wanted for a day AND be rewarded with candy for that creativity. 

I hope I never lose that delight.


Coffee Machine Guy and Boat Guy get attacked by Jaws the Shark and Smaug.