Just Read: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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This year I’ve decided to re-read JK Rowling’s seven book Harry Potter series. After re-reading the first book, I couldn’t help but wonder a few things. Like, how is Harry not afraid of death? The boy’s 11 and he’s off and ready to fight the same notorious wizard who killed his parents. I’m sorry, at 11, I’d probably run in the opposite direction but I suppose I’d be in Hufflepuff anyways.

Secondly: the Mirror of Erised. It was so freaking sad! How my 12 year old self did not cry when reading that chapter is beyond me but this time around, my emotional heart strings were definitely pulled.

Third, is this: JK Rowling is a wizard with words. I was immediately pulled into the magic. I initially feared with re-reading these books as an adult that the magic would somehow be lost, that my stunted view of the world would somehow shutout the possibilities of this imaginary one. However, I’m happy to find out that there’s still a child left inside of me filled with the same wonder and awe that attracted me to this series in the first place!

Thank you mom for listening to NPR all those years ago and picking up Sorcerer’s Stone from the local bookstore for me!

Ok, now onto book two: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!

Nadadora

"Nadadora" by Blanca Gomez
“Nadadora” by Blanca Gomez

During one of my Etsy induced rabbit hole time blocks, I stumbled upon this illustration by Spanish illustrator Blanca Gomez. This piece, “Nadadora,” transported me back in time to 2008 when I found myself drenched in sweat from a dry heat and standing on the edge of a small cliff in a part of Catalonia Spain called Tossa de Mar. The hidden beach: El Codolar.

I was there on a summer study abroad trip and I followed a few from my group from the beach and up through a rocky terrain. Before I could gather where I was, most of the group began to cliff dive from one of the higher cliffs above. They shouted down to me, asking me to photograph their feats and I happily obliged. However, The sun was high without and cloud in the sky and below me was this clear water blinding me with the unforgiving sun’s reflection. It looked like a smooth pool of glass.

There was one problem though: I don’t know how to swim.

I so badly needed to cool down and I didn’t want to head back to the beach, through the perilous rocky terrain alone, let alone still barefoot and in only a bathing suit, so I called up to the group from my small cliff and asked if one of them would jump into the cool water below and wait for me, you know, be a kind of life guard. One agreed. He jumped, posing as Superman for half a second on the way down, and waded in the water, waiting for me to jump.

The first jump was in a word: exhilarating. I pinched my nose and closed my eyes as I took the two running steps off the cliff and managed to get in half of a Hail Mary before I splashed feet first into the glittering body of water below. The water was cool and smooth, just how I imagined it, and I kicked up to the surface, gasping for air. There was my life guard waiting for me as I awkwardly tried to remember how to doggy paddle from my failed lessons as a kid. He guided me back to rocks, helping to hoist me up back onto the rocky, boulder littered terrain, my knees getting cut up by the sharp reefs in the process, and when he joined me back on my small bit of rock I asked if I could go again. He laughed and the GTA who was in charge of our safety and well being shouted down at me, begging me not to jump again given my inability to swim but there was no way I would let go of that rush so quickly. So again, I jumped, this time, eyes open, trying to pose like an Olympic diver on the way down and smiled as I slipped like an arrow back into the water below. Again, there was my life guard, seconds behind me, freaking out that I’d be carried away by the pull of the tide, but I was fine.

All I had to show for my brief burst of insanity were a pair of scratched up and bloody knees that quickly healed and disappeared by the time I returned back to Texas.

But this illustration strikes me and reminds me ever so fondly of my short lived cliff diving experience…perhaps I’ll shell out the $30, hang it on my wall, and let it inspire me when I sometimes get too scared to jump.

R.W. Service

...from that one time I went to Vall de Boí in Spain circa 2008...
Vall de Boí, Spain 2008

“There’s a race of men that don’t fit in, A race that can’t sit still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and rove the flood, And they climb the mountain’s crest; Their’s is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don’t know how to rest.” ― Robert W. Service

Self-possession of the heroine

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“The fundamental difference between the 19th century romantic novels and the contemporary romances that borrow heavily from them is in the self-possession of the heroines. Although the unmarried and all but dowerless Elizabeth Bennet and the orphan governess Jane Eyre are in positions of greater social vulnerability than their contemporary counterparts, neither 19th-century heroine is willing to sacrifice self-respect in order to gain financial security or love. …By contrast, the scenes in which Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele literally fall at the heroes’ feet and rely on the heroes’ strength to stand foreshadow each heroine’s willingness to stay in a relationship with a man whose dominance overwhelms her sense of self, and without whom she seems lost.” – Kristina Deffenbacher