The Big League.

The run stretched from the fold of my knee to my ankle. I toppled out of the car, engine still purring, legs wobbling at their unaccustomed new altitude.

“Just stay in the car!” i craned my neck back at Jonathan, his fingers still thrumming on the wheel. He’d probably put NPR back on without me there. I’d been too nervous to listen to the latest exposé on Joy Division, or whatever.

The lady behind the Rite Aid counter gave me a perplexed once-over, my shimmery pink swath of a dress and elegantly messy bun a vision of out-of-place.

“Y’all carry tights?” i was practically yelping, in need of an inhaler but afraid to elevate my heart rate any more.

“Back row, near cosmetics.”

Heels clacking and eyes as wide as my eyeliner would let them, i flailed my way to the rear of the store. My salvation: rows on rows of Leggs silky-sheer. Five dollars later, i was doubled over in the dingy back bathroom struggling to pull a mess of nylon over my prickly legs. Hopping from foot to foot, i plucked off the ring my Grandmother had given me for my high school graduation, gingerly placing it on top of the toilet paper dispenser. As beautiful as the blue stone was, the beast was the reason for this four-inch-heels sprint through the drug store.

And there i was: legs in nylon knots, trying not to collapse into a hypoglycymic meltdown Rite Aid toilet stall, twenty minutes before the moment i’d been dreaming of since second-grade carreer day.

It was the night of the Talking Taboo book launch.

My book, the real book – not the Advanced Reader’s Copy – was tucked next to my vintage leopard-print coat in the car. I’d outlined in pencil the excerpts i would read, rehearsing with a hairbrush-as-microphone like i was still sixteen and auditioning for American Idol. I’d spent the afternoon slathering myself with hollywood mascara, not caring that i’d be overdressed because you only get one first book launch and this was the dress i felt the strongest in. Pink, effeminate, swishy, and tender. Not a congruent image to the ball-busting feminist ricocheting off the Rite Aid toilet stall walls, but just as much me as the foulmouthed bra-burner found on page 170.

I wound a stretch of scratchy toilet paper around my hand, dabbing at the smears in my foundation. Surrounded by flourescent lights and graying tiles, i stared myself square in my mirror-face. You can, you will, you have. I plucked up my Grandmother’s ring and smoothed down the faux-silk of my skirt.

Jonathan had turned NPR back on by the time i wobbled my way into the passenger seat. Graciously, he turned the volume off and gave me his best honey-you-can smile. With one hand on the wheel and one hand wrapped tightly around mine, he drove the final two miles to the Reality Center downtown.

“You got this, babe.” He’d donned a sport coat and khakis for me, never letting me be the only one overdressed again. In his pocket was a pen, one i’d use later to sign my first book.

“Do i have lipstick on my teeth?” i blurted. He shook his head. “And you’ve got my inhaler?” He tucked the red plastic next to the pen. “Okay, okay, let’s just take a second.” I envisioned myself on my yoga mat, drinking in oxygen as muscles popped with tension-release. Whispered a prayer of thanks, a prayer for confidence, a prayer of humility.

“Ready?”

“Ready.”

Half-wobbling, half-strutting, we made our way inside.

With the incredible Erin Lane, co-editor, her husband Rush and my own Jonathan at the event!

With the incredible Erin Lane, co-editor, her husband Rush, and my own Jonathan at the event!

current jam: ‘rise to me’ the decemberists.

best thing: signing mary’s book!!

buy my book!

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You’re Invited!

IMG_5374My phone has been pinging with the most precious selfies a lady could ask for: friends with grins as big as Texas holding up their copies of Talking Taboo!

Little by little, this book is making its way out to all those who pre-ordered their copies. (And if you haven’t received yours yet, no worries! It’s coming, i promise!)

People aren’t just snapping sassy selfies; i’ve been to one fantastic event already – the Homegrown Preaching Festival in Durham, NC, sponsored by (my favorite non-profit) the Resource Center for Women & Ministry in the South. We had a phenomenal conversation about shame, preaching tough texts, and writing in our multitude of authenticities.

The best part for me, though, was that my mom finally got to read my essay.

With the woman who inspired my essay!

With the woman who inspired my essay!

I say “finally,” like some centrifugal force was withholding information from her. Really, it was knee-knocking me. But an hour or so before the event, i figure the caving needed to happen and she best know what she was getting into. Spoiler: my mother is the direct inspiration for my essay, as she is my inspiration in my every day. Talk about one helluva boss lady.

Needless to say, my knee-knocking was a moot point. There were tears. Sloppy, mommy-and-me tears.

So it’s going to be hard to top event #1. But i have a pretty solid feeling that the next two big events i’m participating in are going to be hefty competition.

And you’re invited to both events!

The first is the official book launch party on Saturday, November 2nd from 5 – 7 PM at the Reality Center in Durham, NC. It’s free, open to the public, and there’s going to be cocktails AND readings from some of the contributors. And, of course, there will be books available for purchase. Seriously, what more incentive do you need?

The second is still in the works, but folks in the Pioneer Valley, MA, should mark their calendars for December 3rd for what promises to be an excellent conversation and reading at All Saint’s Episcopal Church in South Hadley. Details to follow!

These aren’t the only events connected to the launch of the book – be sure to keep tabs on the event page of the official website for more readings and conversations!

I hope, for those of y’all in the NC area, to see you at the official launch party!

best thing: cabin trip tonight!

current jam: ‘marry you’ by jason derulo. typical.

The Relief of “I-Thought-It-Was-Just-Me”

There have been a slew of reasons why this blog – WanderingWrites – has remained vacant until now. But certainly one of the most life-giving reasons for my hiatus has been this group of energetic, electrifying, and eager young woman. It’s been a delight and a privilege working this summer at the Resource Center for Women & Ministry in the South and working behind-the-scenes with the (almost ready to publish!) Talking Taboo anthology. Here’s more about Courageous Conversations, reposted from the Talking Taboo website!

pre-order my book, talking taboo, here!

talking taboo

post by contributor elizabeth mcmanus

When Erin Lane, co-editor extraordinaire, asked me to submit an essay for the Talking Taboo collection, my first reaction was to leap-dance around my room to Whitney Houston.

My second reaction was spine-curling panic.

Panic, for two reasons. One: i had to choose a single taboo to write about, when the options before me filled a book three times over. And two: whatever i wrote about was going to go public. Something everyone from my favorite professor to my future in-laws could peruse.

I felt like i was about to do a strip tease for everyone i knew, and for everyone i didn’t. Rationally, i realized that the possibility of everyone i knew reading my essay was slim, but rationality isn’t my strong suit when Whitney Houston is at a decibal-shattering volume.

So i met with Erin. Armed with a plate full of Daisy Cakes…

View original post 572 more words

The Sisterhood of the Crapping Pants.

A few days ago, i hurled myself off a (metaphorical) cliff in one of those Lifetime-movie Leap-Of-Faith moments. It kind of made me want to hurl in a definitely non-metaphorical way.

The 24 hours leading up to the Big Announcement (which, in case you haven’t heard, is that i’m being published in an anthology called Talking Taboo) involved a lot of frantic Skype calls to J, juxtaposed to dancing around my room in my underwear. Mostly to Whitney Houston. Sorry, flatmates.

My oscillating between paralytic fear and booty-shaking happiness basically boiled down to two things. One: i was tea-totally-terrified of what was about to happen. Two: i was ecstatic with possibility-itis. It’s a frightening and beautiful thing to realize a dream. It’s effing overwhelming to share that dream with the world as you know it.

The book itself asked its contributors to be vulnerable – imperfect, honest, and fierce in conviction. “Truth-tellers,” is the phrase our fabulous co-editors use. So, on a basic level of the material itself being published, i was nervous. My essay is tremendously imperfect. Imperfect because writing is a malleable and elusive art, but mainly imperfect because what i have to say centers around my own fallibility. In some ways, my elation came from a sense of release. It’s a weight off to own what everyone else already knows: we’re all imperfect, no matter how hard we may not want to be.

While i was – and am – obviously thrilled to share the news with people, i also wanted to accompany every proclamation of excitement with: “but please tread carefully! That’s my naked heart you’re going to be handling!”

And then the emails and facebook messages started to pour in with congratulations and we-believe-in-you’s. My dancing turned into hands-hiding-weepy-eyes laughter. Teachers from years ago, friends of my parents, people i never expected to take notice. It’s been humbling and beautiful and the best kind of response i could hope for, naked heart and all.

But the best part of this whole process hasn’t been the ego-boost (though let me be perfectly clear: that is really, really nice!). It’s been reading the blog posts of my co-contributors, hearing and feeding off of their excitement and buzz for the Big Day.

In a multitude of ways, this book is the perfect authorial debut for me. The essay is compact, the editors fabulous, and the book’s premise is a belief i 100% uphold. Most of all, though, there has been such a sense of community in the truth-telling from the get-go. Grace Biskie, one of my co-contributors (and one of the ladies featured on the cover of the book!)  said in her blog she felt like crapping her pants, her piece in the book was so vulnerable. I left a comment saying we could form a Sisterhood of the Crapping Pants.

I’ve known, from day one, that this writing-from-my-core was risky business. People will not universally love what i have to say – even people whom i love very, very much. But whether they toss it out with the rubbish or not, i know i’m not alone in being brave. And that is the best kind of consolation.

So, thank you. Thank you for your reads, views, comments, liked statuses. Thank you for your thoughtful and uplifting messages. Thank you most of all for the outpouring of love. It means the world.

preorder the book on amazon here!

current jam: ‘summertime sadness’ lana del rey.

best thing: friends in all the expected and totally unexpected places.

Talking Taboo: The Big Announcement!

I’m seated in the church pew, unsaid words pressing against my clamped teeth. I’m chewing instead of talking for any number of reasons; i’ve had this experience so often i can’t delineate which memory belongs where. It could be a flagrant disregard of the female characters in the lectionary reading by the pastor. It could be a subtle refusal to even consider female pronouns for G-d in Sunday School. It could be when a member of the congregation makes a combo homophobic-sexist comment about a woman in leadership needing to be “straightened” out by a man.

I’m not in an obvious rage. It’s not always a rage – sometimes it is a thoughtful frustration. But the most important thing is that it’s quiet – i am quiet. I might rant, later, to my ordained-minister mother. She’ll remind me that women have come a long way since the days she couldn’t be a pastor by virtue of her gender. I’ll nod, but exclaim: “we’re not done yet!” If i’m being particularly good that week, i’ll pray. Pray for my anger, pray for the reasons i’m angry.

But i don’t start a conversation. My anger turns into silence, and this silence becomes the taboo i never dare to bring up with anyone who i suspect might disagree.

And the thing is, i know i’m not the only Jesus-lovin’ lady out there who feels this suffocation. I can’t speak for all women who encounter such prejudice – i can only speak for myself. And this what i have to say, boiled down to the basics: i have enough faith in Jesus and the Church that we, people of all gender identities, are capable of confronting the everyday sexism in Christian communities. Capable of engaging compassionately and critically in dialogue with one another about faith and feminism. I am capable of voicing my frustration, even when it requires boldness . It is time i stopped staying silent in the pews.

Because when a chorus of individuals share personal narratives, i think a truly transformative space for conversation can be created.

And that, i hope, is exactly what my co-contributors and i have done in a stupendously exciting new book. It’s called  Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith, and it’s set to be published in October of 2013 by White Cloud Press!!

Forty women under the prowess of two fabulous co-editors, Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro, have each contributed their own story. An essay that embodies the marginalization they have faced because of a clash between our gender and our faith. In the spectrum of women represented there is an equally wide spectrum of perspectives – some claiming feminist as an identity, and some decidedly not. Women of many denominations, races, backgrounds, long publishing resumés and shiny-eyed newbies (like me!). Women coming  together to instigate a taboo dialogue.

A proper book! With a proper cover and everything!

A proper book! With a proper cover and everything!

But having a Big Conversation like this requires a lot more voices than the 40 contributors, which is why today we are kicking off an Indiegogo campaign to help launch Talking Taboo with a bang. It would mean the world to me if you would make a donation to the campaign. Your support helps generate conversation, and the conversation works to end these silences. As an added bonus, we’ve chosen May 7th because it is the feast day of Saint Rose Venerini, who was a teacher of girls & women.

As the youngest contributor to the anthology, i stand on the precipice of my adulthood filled with explosive hope because of my co-contributors’ courage. Having my own story shared in the company of women who have paved so much of the road before me humbles (and, if i’m frank, terrifies) me. Their courage leaves me cracking with expectation for the kind of boundary-transgressing dialogue this book will generate.

Mostly, though, i want to say thank you.

I said yesterday i have always wanted to be a published author. By the grace of G-d and some wonderful mentors, this book is making that happen. It’s people like you – friends, faithful readers, neighbors, kin, and internet-passerbys that empower me to keep writing in the spaces of silence. You are wonderful, and sharing this news with you wonderful people makes the excitement tremendously tangible.

So let’s go shatter some stained-glass ceilings, shall we?

For more information about the book: check out the campaign’s website!

Pre-order your copy of Talking Taboo on Amazon!

Like Talking Taboo on Facebook!

A prologue to today’s announcement.

current jam: ‘i wanna dance with somebody’ whitney houston!

 

Thoughts in my Head: Constitutional Liberty & Seeing Rachel Maddow.

Last week has been one rife with meeting famous people. Or, if not meeting, sharing atmosphere with them. Or TV time. Whatever.

On Wednesday, i went to a panel discussion on whistleblowing in America to hear, most predominantly, Daniel Ellsberg speak. Yeah, the Daniel Ellsberg, of the Pentagon Papers fame, accredited largely in part with tipping the cards in favor of ending the Vietnam War. While his compatriots on the panel, Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, were considerably grave and constantly on the offensive, he was congenial, relaxed, and yet undeniably shrewd. It was a tense atmosphere; all three people on the panel spoke of their willingness to die in order to uncover illegal and immoral activities enacted within the most secretive – and most powerful – corners of the US Government. Their homes had been raided, they had been threatened with prison, and they were blacklisted traitors by those in power. And yet all three of them avowed that they would make the same decision to whistleblow again were the situation presented once more.

While my thoughts after the panel were somewhat muddled, i came away pondering one particular quote i managed to get down, said by Daniel Ellsberg himself:

“Don’t wait until the bombs are falling if you know the Constitution is being violated or if reckless decisions are being made … don’t go to Congress first, they’ll sit on it. Go to the press, and take the risk – take the personal risk, which is very significant – and tell the truth…You may a heavy personal price, but there are wars’ lives that can be saved.” 

And though the image that will forever first come to mind when reflecting on the panel will be Thomas Drake quoting Spock (“The needs of the many outweigh the few for the one” from a movie version, in case you needed to know), foregrounded in such recollections will be their commitment to the liberty promised by the American Constitution.

It’s a thought i hardly ever give any credence to; not exactly the biggest fan of “The Founding Fathers” myself as they are in, in the American psyche, more fiction than fact in my opinion. But the document rendered after the Articles of Confederation – the Constitution – is incredibly radical. And these people had committed the entirety of their lives to defending the rights it stood for. Whatever my personal qualms or questions entangled with that may be, i have to respect it.

Which brings me to my almost-asking-a-question of a woman for whom i have the most immense respect; none other than the namesake of this very blog post, RACHEL FREAKING MADDOW.

On Saturday night, she stood before a crammed auditorium overflowing with members from the general public and more politically engaged MoHos than you could, to use my mother’s phrase, shake a plaid-covered NBC-logo-bearing stick at. (Maybe not precisely how she says it).

After more introductions than necessary for anyone, ever, Rachel Maddow stepped casually out onto the stage, her book in hand and her neon orange kicks glimmering in the stage lights. Wearing her glasses reserved for what i imagine is strictly off-screen time, she grinned charismatically out at the roaring auditorium and exclaimed in the most genuine, geek-unbelieving-at-the-nerd-love-outpouring-from-her-surroundings, “Hi!” She actually blushed when she caught wind of what the crowd was actually doing; singing the most horrendously out-of-tune but incredibly heartfelt “Happy Birthday” Chapin Auditorium has probably ever seen. She’d had me at the sneakers. I pledged my unwavering adoration when she replied “As if i weren’t already blushing enough!”

Rachel. Freaking. Maddow. Fly as hell, as laid back as any Mount Holyoke student, and as cool as the cats come. With what certainly felt like an extemporaneous speech, she prefaced her book with the speech that “politics are my thing” more so than the military, but she wanted to explore the politics of the military and so she’d written a book. No big deal, or anything. Without any real ado, she dove right into reading a passage from her literary debut, Drift: The Unmooring American Military Power, a passage that she clarified was her favorite because it involved the Houbara Busterd, a bird that can excrete green slime as a defense mechanism. She clarified, giggling at herself whilst somehow, in the ultimate unfairness of the universe, maintaining such an unattainable level of awesome and intelligence i kind of melted into my edge-of-the-balcony seat.

While i don’t have any direct quotes to give you from the book, i can give it my whole-hearted endorsement to read. I intend to get my hands on a copy just as soon as i crawl out of this campus long enough to breathe air untainted with whiffs of “i-should-be-studying-itis.” But, really. Her wit comes through in her writing, but more importantly, so does her unyielding and excellent journalistic research. The book is clearly as thoroughly researched as her show and blends that perfect Maddow cocktail of classic reporting with modern sensibilities. And her arguments for the declension of America’s understanding of war are, from what i could gather through this reading and subsequent Q&A session, nothing less than provocative and nothing short of brilliant.

Something that has continued to resonate with me in the aftermath of these two lectures comes back to something Rachel said in response to a question from the audience:

“America didn’t go to war. America sent a military to go to war … and the power in the hands of one person – the President – to declare this war is contrary to what the Founding Fathers wanted ….  If you don’t have to defend your argument, your argument can suck. And George Bush didn’t have to really defend his reasons for going to war to Congress.”

Though both of these events, the panel on whistelblowing and Rachel Freaking Maddow, were not nominally about the same thing, i’ve come back to this question: how important is it to us, as Americans*, to defend and question the Constitution? We seeks always to “better” what has come before – a practice i endorse – but when i consider contemporary political discourse with the impending election, i see very little conversation about they best way to interpret our founding document.

Instead, all i see is fear. Fear of queer people, fear of sexually liberated women, fear of people of color. Fear that if we relinquish anything old, or anything that reminds us of what once way, we will lose our way entirely. Fear that allowing us, as a country still in our decidedly YOUNG adulthood, to make mistakes as women or gay people or undocumented immigrants will end in nothing but global doom. When the reality is, frankly, quite different. We are a country who have had nothing but peaceable elections for over two centuries. We’re not a nation without blood on our hands – far from it. But in the very knowledge that i don’t have to worry about my political part declaration posing a threat to my life violence screams to me that we are not doing our part as informed citizens. Instead of taking this opportunity, as people in a nation where peace was intended as our default standard, to engage critically with principles of freedom and explore what our role is as an empowerer and not a degrader, we bicker over women’s ability to control their bodies. OR the right of two people who love each other to get married. We defend a man who shot a young boy because his candy and warm clothing made him “look suspicious.”

We are getting it wrong.

If the whistleblowers were willing to lay down their lives to defend liberty – and the people whom Maddow talks about in the military were willing to do the same – don’t we owe them more than petty, useless bickering?

current jam: “some nights” fun.

best thing in my life right now: wizard rock and maddow.

*(If, you know, you are American. It is really, really okay if you are not. Welcome, actually!)

Rue the Day: Racial Commentary & The Hunger Games.

Suzanne Collins did not write a book about a dystopian society wherein only white people were foregrounded in a plot to overthrow a totalitarian state. In fact, she pretty explicitly states that the characters of Rue and Thresh, tributes from District 11, have “dark skin.” In this future, there is no buying into the social constructions of race (one thing they did right) but that doesn’t mean she was not making a pointed social comment when she made the little girl, so like the sister for whom Katniss volunteered to potentially die for, black.

When i read The Hunger Games for the first time, i saw Rue as a symbol for interracial empowerment and unity in two key ways: the first were the aforementioned parallels between her and Prim and, consequentially, Katniss’ vision of Rue being one of love unblinded by skin color. The second was her tragic, undue, and horrific death; coming from District 11, which we can guess by the general descriptions of weather and distance is meant to be somewhere in the South (Central Florida? Alabama?) this, to me, read as a pointed comment against segregation and racism across America, but most viscerally apparent in the southern US. Rue was a character who functioned to illustrate the horror of the Games, but also was so beautifully crafted in her intelligence and ability to survive that she still very much existed within the realm of Collins’ fleshed-out, human, believable cast.

Furthermore, i actually always pictured Katniss as being a woman of mixed race/color herself. While i love Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss (and, let us remember, not all racial backgrounds are immediately apparent because race is socially constructed) i had always inferred by Collins’ description of Katniss being a woman of “olive skin” and dark hair that she was a woman of some American Indian ancestry. When she was initially cast, i was a little bit disappointed. However, her performance, as i mentioned earlier today, was so stellar she was such a natural choice for the role.

In fact, if you look closely at the demographic breakdown of the residents of District 12, you’ll notice all the people of more privilege are described as being “fair.” Peeta, who comes from one of the town dwellers, has blonde hair and a pale complexion, much like Katniss’ mother who was a woman of more status prior to marrying Katniss’ dark-haired father. For these loose (but pointed) allusions to a potentially racially-driven class divide that Collins was using to deepen the commentary. While i was sad to, in some way, lose this with Lawrence’s casting, i recognize that Collins was instrumental in choosing her and that the references to Katniss as at least partially American Indian are, after all, very scant. And, may i reiterate: Lawrence herself could very well have American Indian ancestry, because race inherently by its nature of being socially constructed, confines our perception of what “American Indian” or “white” look like in ways that are often not applicable to the masses labeled with such terms.

But still. The point remains: the people who are tweeting that they were “disappointed” that a black girl was cast as Rue is, frankly, disgusting. To express such bigoted and racist views is so contrary to these subtle, poignant commentaries Collins interlaced with her broader statement against consumerism, capitalism, and the military-industrial complex. And clearly, these people didn’t read the books with much care. These tweets and opinions represent everything the Capitol stands for: a place of discrimination, exploitation, and unmitigated privilege at the expense of mass groups of oppressed people. I normally try to stray away from going preach-y on other fans, but the popularity of these horrible, prejudiced views is hurtful, frustrating, and SO NOT THE POINT OF THE STORY COLLINS CRAFTED.

The Hunger Games, at its core, is a book about overcoming adversity in the face of odds that are most certainly not in your favor. A struggle not unlike that faced by all oppressed groups in this country. I think we all do remember this, as fans of the story and as human beings.

current jam: ‘abraham’s daughter’ arcade fire

best thing: the hunger games soundtrack.

*I know this is double-posting in one day, which breaks all conventional blogging rules. But, per request (thanks, Gabs!) and per my own interest in the matter, i wanted to write about this while it was still fresh on my mind. Thanks for sticking with me, friends!

JK Rowling is Writing Another Book!

The news broke forth far and wide across the internet on Thursday morning: JK Rowling has publicly announced that, not only is she writing once more, she is publishing another book. It is not an addendum or addition to the beloved and brilliant Harry Potter series; rather, it is a book for adults released with a new publisher, Little, Brown.

And that, friends, is quite literally all we know at present about the upcoming, undefined-release-date of Rowling’s next work of written art.

But when you’re a multi-billionaire literary genius, all you need do is drop a juicy hint and you’ll have half the world’s literate population salivating over the promise of a new book and scouring the internet for potential clues. For myself, knowing only the above about JK Rowling’s new work (or, as i refer to her in my casual speech (and in my head), “Jo”) was enough to reduce me to jubilant tears, galloping about the room like a gargoyle, and yelping into the phone as i called every potterhead in my contacts list to blubber and shriek for Felix-Felicis-esque ecstasy. A simple tweet from Jo yesterday morning nearly instigated a similar fit of geekish delight: “As you may have heard, I have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry, although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much.”

As you might have heard. What incredible modesty. Might have heard. I’ve only tweeted, reblogged, posted, and interpretive danced my way around the virtual and physical world for the past 48 hours reveling in this tiny, might-have-heard-of-it story. Good grief, Jo, you’re precious and practically perfect in every way.

I really could not think of a better subject to be musing about on the exact one-year anniversary date of this here blog. My second-ever post was, naturally, about being abroad during the release of the final film – and i hardly believe this will be the last Potter-related ramble to make its way here.

And i know, i know what the trolls in reality and online are about to say: You know it’s not going to be another Harry Potter book, right? (It helps if you say that in your best circa-1984-stereotypical-jock-in-a-high-school-mive-starring-Molly-Ringwald voice). Yes, friend, i am fully aware – and thrilled – that Jo is not only writing again, but writing something other than a Potterworld novel.

Obviously, i love everything to do with Hogwarts and Dumbledore’s Army and the Deathly Hallows (i am, after all, getting a tattoo in two years of the Deathly Hallows mark). And were Jo to suddenly announce she were writing another Potter book, i would be thrilled. There would not be an ounce of hesitation in me; regardless of whether it were a prequel or extended epilogue to the tales already published. She gave us seven beautiful books over the course of some ten-odd years, and while i loved the conclusion to the final book, i know anything else she wrote would be equally superlative.

Because, ultimately, i trust Jo Rowling.

Which is why, in the knowledge that this book is “very different to Harry” i couldn’t be more ecstatic. Of course there won’t be thestral-drawn carriages and thrilling Quidditch matches, but my love for Harry Potter resists the simplicity of being reduced to the clever world Jo created. It is a passion for the writing, for the power of love expressed in the characters, and for the incredible storytelling by which Jo coaxes the reader to fall right into the palm of her verbosity-woven hand. Jo did not write seven children’s books; she created a fantastical, whimsical, believable, and vibrantly stunning world that enticed the readers to enter. Regardless of whether or not this next book is going to be even remotely within the fantasy genre, i truly believe her ability to create a fantasy world (even if that world is present-day [muggle] London or Hammersmith or wherever) will draw me in regardless. Naturally, i will enter the book expecting her dry British wit and clever plot twists, but that is a credit her writing more so than it is to the stories rendered at her hand. I trust Jo Rowling in all of her writing endeavors, and i pledge now to read this book – whatever it might be, whenever it may be released – with a mind free from expectations of owls delivering the morning post.

Because, lest i forget, even living in a country where there were only two movie theatres (to my knowledge) did not stop me from seeing Part 2 of the film when released. That’s the power of a good book; yesterday, i stumbled across this quote by Emma Thompson: “I think books are like people, in the sense that they’ll turn up in your life when you most need them.”

As i have grown into my adulthood i have pledged to never let Harry go. I’ve said a thousand times. But i know, most viscerally, that as i grow older the stories will shape and change me in new ways, for i will never be the thirteen-year-old experiencing the Order of the Phoenix for the first time ever again. Nor do i want to be. Harry came into my life at the exact right time; i was six-and-a-half, precociously reading big chapter books (at the hearty encouragement of my mother) when we met. It was to be a life-long friendship. When i was fourteen and the final book came out, i felt as though i was in a summer that transformed me fully into adolescence. I was no longer a child; i traveled to Uganda for the first time, and i knew the conclusion to the Potter saga. This past summer, at the age of eighteen, i fulfilled a dream long-held to live in Uganda – and i saw the final film installment of the cinematic adaptations of the books. That summer, to me, marks the full entrance into my young adulthood. It’s a scary place, looming beyond graduation with electricity bills and undefined next steps and the abyss of what might be and what could never happen.

(Left: This past summer at the Oasis mall in Kampala City right before seeing the film; Right: In the Nairobi Airport around August 10th, 2007)

It just might be that this new “book for adults” Jo is writing will come at the right time. Or perhaps it will simply be a jolly good read – either would be marvelous. But i’m not easily persuaded life is mere coincidence.

And it is for this very reason i am giving away one of the newest additions to my “Desert Island Books” today: The Fault in Our Stars. May whomever you are be someone who needs this book, and needs it now.

Ways you can enter the giveaway:

1. Tweet the link to the blog (be sure to mention me in the same tweet, so i can keep track!).

2. Follow me on twitter (and tell me in an additional comment).

3. Post the link to this blog on your facebook status (and let me know you’ve done so in an additional comment!).

4. Follow Wandering Writes on WordPress or by some other method (and let me know you’ve done so in an additional comment!).

5. And, of course, by answering the comment question! Best of luck to you all!

Comment Question: What are your thoughts on JK Rowling writing a new book?

Yesterday’s Winner: Larry, for commenting with his Desert Island movie being “JAWS.” Congratulations, Larry! Also, a special shout-out to Hattie for responding to yesterday’s post with a blog of her own! For this, Hattie, i’d like to offer you five of the “nerdy and i know it” postcards! Thanks for such an awesome response!

current jam: “mischief managed” nicholas hooper.

best thing in my life right now: Jo Rowling has written another book. does this need further explanation?

The Fault in Our Stars: Revisited.

From the open love letters i have composed so frequently to the writings rendered by John Green, it is no secret i am a fervent member of his cult of nerdfighters follower of his philosophies. My admiration from him stems from both his body of work as one half of the vlogbrothers with his hilarious and vivacious brother, Hank Green, and more deeply from his written artistry manifested in his novels. My favorite was, until recently, Looking for Alaska.*

In January, i had the beautiful opportunity to see John and Hank speak as part of the tour for the release of John’s latest book, The Fault in Our Stars. John said then – and has reiterated in many of his videos – that this was the book he had been writing for us for over ten years. His use of the phrase “writing for you” alone already was enough to fill me with unbridled anticipation to read it; knowing he had, in fact, written it for us made me beside myself. Having read almost everything he’d published prior to this, i knew that such longevity spent with his words must have made a masterpiece of them.

It did.

When i reflected on meeting John here, on Wandering Writes, i devoted my energy to thinking about the meaning of meeting your heroes. John Green is, in every sense of the word, what i believe to be a contemporary philosopher. He is utterly human in his admitted flaws and yet afflicted with the imperial sense of cosmic chaos and meaning indelible to those of Great Minds. I said then, and i think it bears repeating, that i don’t mean to idealize him (i think he would be genuinely worried to hear someone call him perfect) but i do believe he is an incredible voice in a generation in need of incredible leaders. Meeting him was humbling and human.

All this, before i had even so much as cracked open the spine of the book for which the tour had been commenced. In a multitude of facets, i am profoundly grateful for this; i was a blubbering, molasses-on-my-tongue fool enough having only read his previous works. Reading the culmination of his genius thus far was riveting enough to have reduced me to an absolute puddle in such circumstances.

Without betraying anything key to the plot or characters, i will say this: The Fault in Our Stars broke me down and patched me up in the way childhood once felt. The complexity of human existence amidst the disillusionment that comes with growing older seemed to, bizarrely, crumble while my hands were wrapped about the cover and my attention engulfed in the story. Reading the story, i simply was. Infinity was tangible. Then, of course, i finished the book and all the uprooting-to-my-core emotions suspended for the sake of being able to see the words on the page came pouring out. My stomach, i realized, had been clenched in a knot so tight i hardly breathed the whole book through. It was as if, for those twenty-four hours i spent in various curled-up positions engrossed in the book, i was no one. A human swept up in a story.

And then, with the closing of the last page, reality hit, and so did the beauty and destruction of the story. I know this sounds like the stuff of creative writing professorial nightmares – phrases plagued with sweeping statements that would make even Nathanial Hawthorne cower in vocabular fear – but i am being as genuine as i can be. This book went from being a work of art – a lie telling the truth – to lived reality. The truth unveiled consumed me.

I didn’t write up my reflections here, for i wanted to hold on to them for a while. Let the swirl of whisked-up sadness and truth and cosmic chaos brood. I’m still not done processing (i don’t think anyone really ever can be) and even these very words are only hands run along the top of the water. They aren’t plunged in, enveloped.

Such an experience belongs to the reader. And while my own torrents of comprehension are still in need of hashing out, i don’t think i want to do that all here. Not for lack of love for you, but rather because i want to give you the gift of reading the book yourself, making your own claims and dissensions and celebrations. For this reason, on the official first birthday of Wandering Writes (this approaching Saturday, the 25th) the last prize to be given away will be nothing other than a signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars:

This is not, of course, the copy that he himself personalized for me; it is unread by myself and waiting for someone to drink in its wisdom and folly. May it find a loving home with you, whomever you may be.

For today and tomorrow, though, the giveaway will continue to be nine “nerdy and i know it” postcards (with the bonus tenth one from my globetrotting collection!). Rules and such are here!

Comment Question: What book fills you with inexplicable zeal or passion or longing?

Yesterday’s Winner: Kenzie for tweeting the link to the blog! Congrats, Kenzie! (sorry for the delay! The internet on campus went down last night!)

current jam: “permafrost” laurena segura

best thing in my life right now: the mountain goats.

*If these names are ringing in empty ears (that is to say, you have no freaking clue what i’m talking about) might i direct you to this video. Welcome. DFTBA.