In which Reallycorking and Mudblood428 reunite to make H/G art.
Also, hp_reunion. See you there!
Seven years ago today, I was volunteering as a face painter at my favorite Borders bookstore - the one that had given me a spot in their cafe to draw every weekend and rewarded my attempts at artistic legitimacy by hosting my very first (and only) art show featuring my Harry Potter artwork. It was the midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and I joyfully spent four straight hours dressed up as Hermione drawing owls, Hogwarts crests, dark marks, basilisks, and anything else kids and grown-ups alike could concoct to wear on their faces, arms, and hands.
Of course, face painting all night prevented me from queuing up with the rest of the fans to get my copy of the book. By the time midnight had arrived, I emerged from the children's book section with a sore wrist and realized I would be at least 200th in line to get my book. At this point, I was tired and daunted at the idea of driving myself home later than it already was, so I resolved to get myself back to the bookstore early the next day to pick up and pay for my reserved copy. I made sure to greet the manager on my way out to thank him for another opportunity to participate in a Potter event at his store.
He gave me a big hug and asked why I was leaving. "It's pretty late and the line is a little too long. But it's fine. I'll be back tomorrow," I had said.
"Wait here," he replied, and disappeared into the throng. Moments later, he emerged with a shiny new Harry Potter 7. "For you."
Elated, I dove into my purse to take out my wallet, and was promptly interrupted.
"Nope. It's yours free of charge. For all you've done for these kids and our store. Take it home."
My eyes filled with tears as I accepted my copy, and I stumbled over words in an attempt to convey just how grateful I was. I raced home and, despite my exhaustion, jumped into pajamas and read the first chapter to my roommate. Ultimately, she went to bed, and I stayed awake all night reading the rest until the last page had been turned.
A lot happens in seven years. The Borders bookstore that had welcomed me so warmly as one of their own is now closed. And I now have a little Harry of my own. But the memory of being among so many enthusiastic fans, doing what I love to do, being on the receiving end of such generosity, and devouring an entire book in the same night as so many other die-hard Potterheads stays with me to this day.
So here is the first Harry Potter artwork I've completed in many years. It was commissioned by a dad for his 14 year-old girl who is nearly as big a fan of the books as her old man. I'm thrilled to share it with the only group of people on the planet who know just how much I love this scene. It represents the beginning of amazing things - in the books, and in my life.
Characters: Ron, Harry, Hermione, Neville
...and I don't need anything. No presents. No cake. I have everything I could possibly want. This makes me both nervous (as though the universe has some unhappy tricks in store, so I'd better enjoy this while it lasts), and incredulous, because it feels a little like winning the lottery after so many years of beginning private entries with the words, "I wish..."
The thing that makes me happiest is the knowledge of how much more there is to look forward to. Skills to polish. People to know. Places to visit. Things to create. And they are, I am grateful to say, within reach in one way or another. But, for so many, happiness, health, and prosperity - the stuff I am trying really hard not to take for granted on a daily basis - are not in the cards.
So this year, I have a request for anyone who would like an excuse to do something awesome. It's my birthday, and my wish is to help more people achieve the kind of good that I and so many others enjoy, and give a little more back to the planet we take so much from. If you have the time, dollars, or interest, here are some things on my wish list.
1) Sign my petition urging the US Government to get the plastics problem under control. Not only is this stuff poisoning our environment, but our country also makes plastics something for other, poorer countries to deal with by sending them our waste, which they have no means to effectively handle without putting their communities at great risk. They deserve better and so do we.
2) Visit "Click to Donate" at Care2.com. It is 100% free. Using pay-per-click sponsorship, your click can save acres of rainforest, rescue wildlife, purify water, and raise dollars for cancer research, among other causes. And did I mention it is FREE?
3) Donate to 350.org. They have taken on the massive task of convincing governments and corporations that our air, our atmosphere, and our climate are worth fighting for.
4) Give to Team J.E.D.I, a leukemia and lymphoma fundraising initiative spearheaded by my friend, Jason, who just won his battle against a rare form of leukemia.
And then, if you feel so inclined, there's a special project I am involved in that, if you can help, comes with rewards. My friend, Steve, has asked me to illustrate a scifi picture book, and being a father of two without the ability to pay for my services out of pocket, he has put his faith in Kickstarter to raise the funds to illustrate and self-publish it. There are a number of incentive levels, but if anyone on here donates you'll get a little extra something from me to thank you for supporting a project that will have my name on the cover as illustrator. Just let me know in the comments if you donated:
And I am now 25 minutes away from being a year older. Thanks so much for reading. Thanks so much for always being here for me. My birthday wishes include the wellbeing and happiness of all you amazing people, who are in great part responsible for so much of what brings me joy in my life. Keep being awesome.