I was knitting and listening to Harry Potter on audiobook (I should be sleeping! Instead, not.) like a good geek girl tonight, because after seeing the final film I was filled with nostalgia for the first four books, the ones I actually liked. Stephen Fry reads them, and I gotta go with Vonnegut on this one because I was sitting in a plush chair with a glass of wine knitting azure lace and listening to a beautiful British man tell me a beautiful story and if that’s not nice I don’t know what is.

But it occurred to me, whilst listening to Harry’s hilariously over the top horrible treatment by the Dursleys, that this whole plan of Dumbledore’s really could have gone very wrong. Because while, yes, it is true that being raised by normal people (albeit awful and they did know the Dursleys were awful, it just fit into a vague handwavey wibbly wobbly timey wimey protection spell sort of thing) instead of in a nonstop fame factory MIGHT create a gentle, humble, sweet-natured boy, it could also, quite easily, create a sociopath.

I mean, seriously. The cupboard under the stairs? This is the kind of shit that makes serial killers. It’s the banality of evil, and though Voldemort’s childhood was impressively Dickensian/Bret Easton Ellisian, Harry’s is pretty much textbook on how to break a little kid. And though many kids come out of abusive homes relatively even-keeled and stable if defensively cynical (I did) just as many come out permanently broken, unable to make meaningful connections or even understand the concept of love, and certainly unable to perform the All Important Magical Feat of Believing in Yourself, which is Required for all Protagonists. In fact, that is kind of a problem with a lot of abused children–the inability to see themselves as protagonists in their own lives and stories, since they were treated in formative personal epochs as NPCs at best, villains at worst, and usually some kind of horrible side character who needs to be put down for the good of the Real People, ie, the abusers and those they deem part of their tribe of worthies.

I certainly see that growing up famous, rich, and adored/believed to be super powerful and important by all is a great way to raise a Gossip Girl-style horrorshow of a person, and often kids who have been raised just couched in comfort and unconditional love with no chance to fail or struggle on their own can be listless and spoiled and generally the worst. Sorrow and trauma is what makes us complex and compassionate, the experience of it personally allows us to predict, empathize, wish to avoid, and desire to protect others from it, and thus most social interaction is made. But that doesn’t mean that in order to make the Most Compassionate Child, the Superhero of Being Really Nice, you should just beat down and crush a kid underfoot.

Which is more or less what Dumbledore does, and everyone is horrified that he’s doing it, but he is Gandalf the White and None Shall Argue. I get that he is Wise and Male and Has a Job in School Administration, but really? (Don’t even get me started on the absurd importance of a single public school in that world–and I honestly think it is a public school and not private, within the wizarding world any child with magical ability can go, there doesn’t seem to be tuition beyond basic supplies, and the government is SUPER INVOLVED in the running of the place. Anyway.) Seriously, that is a DICE ROLL, YO. It could have gone the other way. Harry could have made Draco look like a kitten with a daisy in his paw.

File off the names and serial numbers and this could, easily and with great tragic muscle behind it, be Voldemort’s origin story.

Now, now, I know that Harry and Voldemort are meant to have a lot in common, there are intended parallels, but the fact that the Dursley Shuffle is done deliberately, pretty much to make Harry not turn out to be a shithead makes it sort of darkly hilarious to me. Yes, you can turn out Ok. I like to think I have. But Not Ok is on the table at all times with this sort of thing. It is always in play.

Because if you lock ten children under the stairs for the first eleven years of their lives, I’ll bet you a Time Turner that you’ll get four supervillains, three deeply wounded individuals so desperate for love they will do anything they’re told to by the first person who hugs them, two completely shattered psyches incapable of meaningful speech, and one Harry Potter, a basically normal, gently dented boy who is good at sports, naturally likeable, and willing to sacrifice himself for the group of your choice.

Them’s some long odds, D-man. Glad that worked out for you.

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My friend userinfotheferrett , avid Clarionnite, is raising money for that worthy workshop, and asked me to donate something for the raffle.

Thus I have done. Donate at least $5 to his efforts and I’ll make you a piece of jewelry based on any book or story of mine you choose, plus a signed copy of the work in question. Any single thing, all the way back to my first books.

The necklace in question will likely include glass elements once I unpack my glassmaking supplies, and you can see examples of gifts I made for userinfozoethe  over on the main post. Since I give away all the jewelry I make, I have precious few photos!

Go forth and support the next generation of science fiction and fantasy writers!

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When I was in college, I used to read Rob Brezny’s astrology column in our local indie rag every week. I learned about astrology at my mother’s knee, literally, and I know far too much about it for a normal human being–and far too much to put stock in the horoscope side of things. Astrology entered my head around age 10, too early for me to really think too critically about it. I hold it in an intellectual Schrodinger’s box, as I do most of the new age stuff I grew up with (my religious pedagogy was dizzying in its variety to say the least.)

But horoscopes are kind of the red light district of astrology. Most contemporary horoscopes aren’t worth anything, and kept as vague as possible–as well as treacly and annoying. For the curious, extremely specific personal charts are where most astrologers, such as there are these days, make their money, and it’s certainly where I made mine when I worked as a fortune-teller. Mainly cards, some charts, some palms.

But I read Brezny, because he made it an art–little zen koans in a paragraph or less, often as profound as poetry. How much it ever had to do with actual astrology I don’t know, but there is a kind of divinity in the random chance of what your sign said that week–because what it was saying was almost always worthwhile.

I don’t know why I stopped reading it religiously. But every once in awhile I come across his online scopes, and I see that ten years on he’s as good as he ever was. Thanks, Rob.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Much of the work you’re doing right now is
invisible to the naked eye, maybe even to your own naked eye. You’re
learning a lot while you sleep, drawing sustenance from hidden reservoirs
even when you’re awake, and steadily improving yourself through the arts
of creative forgetting and undoing. Continue this subtle artistry, Taurus.
Be cagey. Be discreet. Don’t underestimate how important silence and
even secrecy may be for you right now. The healing transformations
unfolding in almost total darkness should not be exposed or revealed
prematurely; they should be protected with vigilance.

Kinda needed to hear that.

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So, despite being all Serious Cat Is Serious in the eyes of most people everywhere, I actually love going out to dance at clubs.

Yet I almost never do.

Why is this? I keep trying to explain to my friends that if they can find me an 80s night, I’ll go. But it’s not because I’m a Gen Xer who is all ONLY 80s MUSIC ALL THE TIME. I like plenty of eras of music (there are lamentably few 50s nights, though). Yet I couldn’t quite put my finger on why an 80s night sounds ok to me, but "going out dancing" makes my chest tighten and an inexplicable sadness fall over me.

And then I was watching this youtube thing about pop music and this guy Todd said in defense of Katy Perry’s Hot Or Cold of all things: "Especially in an era when most pop music is so grim and deadening, if you can’t enjoy a big, dumb, happy pop song, then what can you enjoy?"

And I can finally explain it.

Because generally when my friends want to go dancing, they mean "we are going to a goth and/or techno club." Which to me means "we are going to a club which will play exclusively arrhythmic depressing music or thuddingly rhythmic but aggressive, angry, and atonal music." And that doesn’t sound fun to me at all. (And sadly in Maine we have not so many choices.)

If I’m going to get my sluttysparkle outfits out and make up my face and drink blue and purple drinks and dance with my friends, I do not want to do it to music that is sad as shit or that wants to hurt me (or make me hurt myself). What I may or may not listen to at home is totally irrelevant to what I want to dance to–often I want things to fade into the background while I’m working, which makes some techno ok, and honestly I just never did like goth music, I’m sorry, I have tried so hard, but I just can’t, even though it’s basically required listening for my demographic. But for dancing I want something that takes me over and makes me want to move. It is the opposite, see?

And frankly, I just want to be happy and bounce around and sing along to the lyrics and laugh and drink and then do it some more. I LOVE that shit. It’s why weddings have become the best place to dance lately–people my age don’t make us do the chicken dance anymore, and no one saddles Grandma with their latest shrieking industrial technobark favorites. So we dance to upbeat, dorky, fun songs and lift up our satin skirts and it’s awesome. It’s why, to this day, I can make a party start dancing and not stop until it’s 4 am by putting on my wedding playlist (it is magical, tried and tested and unfailing).

I want clubbing to be like that. And sometimes it is–I went dancing all the time when I lived in the UK, and the gay clubs played fabulous bubbly pop music and the straight clubs always had a "cheese night" where you could dance to something you’d ever heard before. I don’t go out to show how indie and cool I am because I like something that sounds like it was duck taped together from Macloops, a Casio demo, and an old toothbrush, I just want to shake my ass, you know? It’s not about 80s music, but about the fact that 80s night means fun, danceable music without any posturing or aggressorscream sucker-punching. Also I like themes. I don’t know of another code for that. I’m happy to dance to contemporary big, dumb, happy songs–I like Ke$ha and I’m not even ashamed. (Again, not to listen to at home, but I’ll dance the hell out of it.) But most DJs feel it’s beneath them to play stuff like that, because they are Deep and Artists and Will Make You Weep With the Power of Mixing Things. So in general, one gets their Depth and very little happy. Happy is not Deep. It is not Cool. It is not Scene.

So every bar’s calendar is filled up with DJ Whatthefuckever’s Technovibrodubkrush Earblast and it’s just no fun for me. My enjoyment of dancing is directly linked to how much I like the song, and I want something big, dumb, and happy so I can be big dumb and happy for a night, because let’s face it, I wouldn’t have had all that blue drank if I wanted to assume a safety position in the corner while the music WHARRGARBLs all over me. I go out to lighten up, not to confront Dementors.

Which is to say, it’s not like I would choose Katy Perry for my bosom companion, but I’d damn sure rather dance to her than the latest hardcore scenestylings. You know?

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It is apparently the three week period in which all the stories I wrote over the winter come out!

But I am so excited about this one!

Some of you may remember back in the snowy tiemz of earlier this year, when I was babbling about having written a football story. (I am secretly obsessed with sports movies, you know.) A real one! With a championship and everything!

Well, my high school football/Coyotetrickstermageddon story, White Lines on a Green Field is out on Subterranean Online, and you can read it right this very moment! I hope you like it–comments open here as ST doesn’t have them.

As it says in the byline, this story is specially dedicated to userinfoseanan_mcguire , a stray comment of whose inspired it. Also she is always telling me to put out a cookie for Coyote. Consider this my cookie.

Let me tell you about the year Coyote took the Devils to the State Championship.

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