19 Years Later: Harry Potter & I

Book Reviews, Fiction

The memory is clear as day: the arrival of relatives from the U.S. meant imported goods (chocolates, clothes) from a balikbayan box but this, this time, was no usual clamoring. My Lola, who used to travel back and forth between the Philippines and her adopted home country would always come home to see the rest of her kids (my mom) and grandkids (us).

My sister Mel and I dressed up hurriedly, waiting patiently at my grandmother’s house for her arrival. Our excitement was tripled that day because she was not only 1) coming home 2) with pasalubong but because she was also the 3) bearer of more important packages.

After the tears-eyed embraces, after bellies have been filled with home-cooked meals, all of us would gather in the living room, the balikbayan box the center of everyone’s attention. After boxes of chocolates, more clothes, more socks and canned goods were handed out, she reached to the bottom of the box and pulled out the heaviest parcel and handed them to Mel and I.

We tore the brown packaging immediately. I ran my hand over the book’s cover, the grooves easy on my fingers. Right at the moment, my sister and I were the happiest, newest owners of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

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I’ve been a fan ever since and played my due diligence of Potter mania: watched the movies, bought Harry Potter-ish (quill) pens and (parchment) notebooks, wished I could be a wizard as well, got sorted into the Gryffindor house at Pottermore.

To add to a lifelong affinity of HP, Mel and I planned to attend the midnight book release of the final book of the series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in our local bookstore. As that evening wore on, I had mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness, remembering the first time I ever laid hands on an HP book. But I was also tired and midnight is way past my bedtime.

A store assistant holds copies of the book of the play of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child parts One and Two at a bookstore in London

We didn’t even up going (my sister was also tired and too sleepy for HP) but she went ahead and got the books the next day. She spent three hours that day reading the entire book, constantly sending me updates and near-spoilers. It wasn’t until after about three weeks that I finally sat down to read the final book of the series, which took me about a few days worth of night-time reading.

The script format takes a while to get used to, but it eases you in right away. Since the last book is fantastically also a play out in London at the moment, it makes sense. The play runs until December 2017 and from the looks of it, every night is already sold out.

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But back to the book: Albus Severus Potter, the middle child (out of three) of Harry and Ginny (Weasley) takes center stage along with Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius. Yes, you read that right.

Writers with Day Jobs

Sunday Spotlight


I’m finally reading J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; I couldn’t stay with Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life any longer as I eyed Rowling’s latest masterpiece scrupulously begging to be read. I’m slowly working my way through Yanagihara’s 800-page tome, but a few calculations here and there made me realize that I would need at least another 12 days to finish the book. I had to put the book down.

I dove right into the Rowling’s eighth book after nineteen years. The script format takes a little getting used to, but the story carries on. I still remember reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when I was in elementary, awash in wonder and curiosity. Although I’m only on page 30, I have a renewed sense of giddiness and excitement.

In a The New Yorker article, contributor Jia Tolentino writes:

Without set decoration, it cleanly shows the moral imagination of the “Harry Potter” universe, in which goodness is circumstantial and endings are never guaranteed.

Finally,  a New Harry Potter Story Worth ReadingThe New Yorker

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From the series “Day Job” by Natalya Balnova

I came across Natalya Balnova series called “Day Job” which featured illustrations like the one above (more here). And then there’s this wonderful piece on ten writers who quit their day jobs: Arundhati Roy, Toni Morrison, John Green. As a writer and (a community organizer) with a day job (although my schedule also calls for night time flexibility), looking at these illustrations, reading the article give me infinite hope.

There were some sentiments that I echoed with from Virginia Woolf’s book A Room of One’s Own wherein she specified the types of conditions women needed to have in order to write. I think what she failed to say, beyond the material conditions she specified (400 pounds a year and one’s own room), is the kind of mental, social and psychological space women needed in order to write.

These days, when I hear of writers and that kind of luxurious space, I can’t help but think that what I’m wishing for is too bougie.

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From the series “Day Job” by Natalya Balnova

Class privilege has always been something I try to be aware of, although a lot of working-class writers have made it work. Perhaps creating that space does not even require leaving your day job, specially if it sustains your physiological needs.

While I’m in no position to leave my day job at the moment, what is important though is this: always make time for your writing.