Friday, July 21, 2017

Day 1

It's been a long day! Been a 2-day-long day. Got up for work at 7 am yesterday. It's now the equivalent of 1:30 pm today. No sleep. Seventeen hours traveling. So far, we've had a kid throw up, and already had enough plane delays to miss a connecting flight. But the weather here is awesome! A cool 65, 70 degrees!

I got to check off a bucket list item by driving on the left side of the road, but the rental car I was given is a huge, massive behemoth, and we were driving on some very narrow roads. I didn't have too much trouble with staying on the left side, but I did have some issues due to the size of the vehicle. Frustrating and disappointing because I pride myself on being a good driver, and today I didn't prove that I am.

No scones, yet, but I did get my first, real English fish and chips. And mashed peas. I ate all the fish and chips. I did not eat all the mashed peas.

England is beautiful! I haven't taken any scenery pictures yet because of that whole driving thing, but I saw more sheep today than I have in my whole lifetime. And we went through some quaint, little English villages that were the cutest things ever! And check out the house we're staying in! It's so cool! Although it's tiny - 2 bathrooms for 13 people!

 And this is my new friend:

And I really, really want to call my mom and talk with her about sll this stuff. 

Hoping I can sleep. 

So, um, good night.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ready for England

So, obviously, I haven’t been using this blog for its intended use, so I might as well use it for updating those who are interested in the happenings on my missions trip to Rossington, England. 

We leave tonight! I think I’m ready. All my screens and camera batteries are charged, I’ve packed more than enough underwear, my passport is in my carry-on… My wallet is still in my car - I hope I remember to get that. I watched a YouTube video about how to drive on the left side of the road, I switched some dollars into pounds, and I wrote 3 scripts for some skits we’ll be performing. I’m still trying to narrow down the books I’m bringing. (Yes, I have a nook, and it’s in my bag, but I just like real books so much better.)

I’m excited – it is England, after all – and I’m nervous – it is me, after all. For those who didn’t read my Facebook posts, Rossington is a small, former coal-mining town a couple hours outside of London. Think West Virginia coal-mining town, and you’ll get the idea. My church has supported a missionary there, Eric Simpson, for over a decade, and we will be working with him in his church and community. We’ll be doing outreach, community and service projects, VBS (called holiday school in England), women’s ministry, drama, and running what they call a “messy church.” Messy Church is an evening event that includes a meal, activity or craft, and a devotional time. Since many people in England no longer attend church and think it’s an outdated, boring religious structure suitable only for holidays and funerals, this is Eric’s way to get people involved. One of his main goals for our visit is to demonstrate that church and Christians can be family, can go deep, can be a positive experience. No pressure! This is the first time we’ve sent a “family missions team,” which means we’re including young children travelling with their parents. It makes for a different type of trip, so we’re the guinea pig team, to see how this works. Key word is flexibility. 

That’s all I’ve got time for at the moment. Please pray for health and safety of me and the team and the people we’ll be ministering to. Pray for me because this is way out of my comfort zone and includes many of the experiences I try avoidon a regular basis. And pray I don’t totally screw anything or anyone up. And pray we get out of our own way, or out of God’s way.

And, of course, it's not too late to help out financially. 😉

Monday, July 14, 2014

Confusion wrinkled Mannie Green’s brow as she flipped over the postcard in her hand, looking for some clue to decipher the twelve words hastily scrawled on the other side – “Dear friend, Arrived home safe. I’m not angry any more. Your friend, Mabel.” She closed the front door behind her and leaned against the dark oak grain. The metal door handle dug into her hip. She bit her bottom lip. What on earth was Mabel talking about? When had she been angry? Or, more importantly, why was she angry? Was she upset with Mannie, or angry about something else? Mannie sighed. Who was she kidding – Mabel was always upset with her about one thing or another. She could never seem to do right in Mabel’s eyes.

Mannie dropped the rest of the mail on the table beside the door and carried the postcard into the kitchen. Pulling a chair back from the small wood table, she sat down, her eyes still on the note in her hand. The card had been postmarked in Buffalo on ____, 1908, which meant she sent the postcard a week ago. She and Mabel hadn’t had any communicated in months. Maybe that was it. Maybe she was mad that Mannie hadn’t been in contact recently. But things had been busy – her husband had been sick, she was heading up the church bazaar… Mannie stopped short – but she’d been the last one to reach out. She’d sent a letter to Mabel two months ago and hadn’t heard back. She hadn’t paid much attention, but thinking about it now, it was odd not to have received a reply. If there was anything Mabel loved it was criticizing everything Mannie did. She claimed she was simply helping Mannie to better herself, as only the truest friend would do. She said she felt sorry for Mannie wasting her life in small town Silver Creek, New York. Their usual weekly letters also allowed Mabel time to wax eloquent on all her society friends and the lavish parties they had, always for a good cause, of course. She took every opportunity to point out how much better her extravagant lifestyle was in Boston.

If Mabel hadn’t written for over two months, she must have been angry for over two months. Although, Mabel usually got more vocal when she was angry, not less. Mannie dropped the postcard on the table and sighed. She must have really messed up this time, but she had no idea what she could’ve done. The tea kettle began to whistle and Mannie rose from her seat to turn off the heat. Pouring herself a small cup, she wondered why Mabel had been in New York. She squinted as a ray of light shone through the pane window over the sink, landing on the butcher block counter next to the stove. Perfectly centered in the light was the to-do list she’d carefully written over breakfast. Sighing, she reached over and picked it. She didn’t have time to sit and ponder what minor incident had tipped Mabel off. She had things she needed to do today. Besides, Mabel said she wasn’t angry anymore, so there was no point in worrying about it. Mannie glanced down at the piece of paper in her hand. Laundry. Oh how she dreaded laundry day.

Focusing on the task at hand, Mannie gathered clothes and began putting them in the new rotary washing machine her brother had just given her. She began to slowly turn the crank. It didn’t take much concentration and her mind began to wander. Mabel had visited about six months ago. Had something happened then? She complained about the lack of servants and the cramped quarters, the cold stone floor and the uncomfortable bed. She didn’t like how dark the small cottage, especially in the evenings. She felt they could use more candles. But she complained about all that every time she stayed with them. It was a marvel she even visited at all and a testament to their true friendship, as Mabel reminded Mannie most every day while she was there. During this most recent trip, she had commented on a lack of meat at dinner, stating that even the Bible said, “man could not live on bread alone.” It was an exaggeration, but she was most fluent in that language. But would she really be angry for six months because of eating too many beans? Mannie didn’t think so. And she couldn’t blame anything on her husband. He had been travelling on business, so the traditional Mabel versus James shouting contest had been avoided. They had never gotten along, and Mabel had often said that marrying James was the biggest mistake Mannie had ever made. Sometimes Mannie agreed with her on that point.

Mannie’s wedding day drifted to her mind. She remembered standing at the front of the little brick church almost twenty-five years ago. It wasn’t the celebratory day she’d dreamed about as a little girl. She’d always imagined a bright, sunny day, her friends and family in the yard behind her parents’ farmhouse, some ice cream and lemonade, a new dress, and a handsome man who made her smile. Instead, she was in a dark and damp building, the only people in attendance being her parents, the minister, and the groom. She wore her best dress, but it was several years old and had begun to show some wear. There was no ice cream, and the handsome man who made her smile had just gotten married two weeks earlier to Mabel Thornton. They’d had sunlight and ice cream at their wedding.

Mannie had loved Robert Bailey, and he’d loved her. He was the most handsome and kindest man in the county and every girl wanted to court him, but he had chosen her. He’d said it was because she had the prettiest green eyes in the world. They were going to get married, have three kids, and be happy forever. Then one day her parents had asked her to come into the living room for a moment. She was surprised as no one ever used the room except for special occasions. The expression on her mother’s face worried her. The expression on her father’s face scared her. He told her she was almost eighteen and she was old enough to start dealing with adult responsibilities. They said the farm had been struggling, and they couldn’t afford to keep it unless something changed. Then her mother hid her face behind a handkerchief while her father explained that James Green had just inherited a lot of money and he was interested in marrying her. He promised to help with the farm’s finances. Mannie had fought and yelled. Her parents continued to make their case. She had three little sisters, and her parents’ health was declining. Robert was just as poor as she was, and had no inclination for farming. Mannie cried and refused for three days, but in the end she gave in to honor her parents’ wishes. When she told Robert, he’d been angry, accused her of never loving him, of being a gold-digger. And then, to spite her, he’d run straight to Mabel’s open arms, digging up a little gold of his own in the process.

She didn’t cry at her wedding. She’d cried enough at Mabel and Robert’s wedding. Now, she was simply doing what she had to do to save her family. She decided that sentimentality no longer had a place in her life, so she straightened her back, squared her shoulders, and said, “I do.”

Mannie blinked as she looked at the washing machine. All the clothes were clean, but she was still cranking, her knuckles white as she gripped the handle. Soapy water had spilled over the edge of the tub. She quickly stopped and stood up, flexing her fingers to improve the blood flow. All those years ago, she’d been tempted to hate Mabel, but she had no one to blame except herself. Still, nearly twenty-five years later, the memory of Mabel’s smiling face as she enjoyed Mannie’s dream wedding still managed to bring an unwanted twinge of remorse... and maybe something a little more.

Refusing to dwell on it, Mannie picked up her basket of wet clothes and carried them outside to hang them on the line. Usually her little back yard brought her joy. She loved the small row of flowers lining the inside of the fence. She’d often take off her shoes and squish her toes in the small patch of green grass. But today she noticed the white paint peeling off the fence posts and how the grass was a little more brown it spots than it should be. She glared at the clothes with resentment, as if they’d made themselves dirty. She set the basket down and stretched her aching back. She could hear Mabel’s voice now: “You poor dear, a couple of servants could save you so much. Look at you. You look ten years older than you are, your hair is graying – it used to be such a nice mousy brown – your hands are calloused, and it’s all for what? There’s still dust on the mantle. If your no-good account of a husband really cared about you, he’d hire a maid, or at least a cook. My Robert doesn’t let me lift a finger. As your friend, I’m quite worried about you.” Mannie let out a short huff. Robert had nothing to do with their servants. Sure he’d managed to become quite successful in the banking world, but everyone knew Mabel was the real money of the family. She’d never gone a day without servants and, doting husband or not, she never would. As for James, it’d only taken five years for his gambling and ill-advised business decisions to run her family’s farm into the ground. They’d had to sell it piece by piece until there was nothing left. They’d had to leave Virginia altogether. Her sisters had married decent men, and they’d helped secure a little home for Mannie and James near them in New York, but there was no money for servants. As it was, Mannie took in sewing jobs when she could and hid the money in an old jar in the back of a kitchen cupboard. She’d had to use it several times to make ends meet throughout the years. Once again, things had gone wrong for Mannie, but quite right for Mabel.

It’d been that way all their lives. Mabel’s family was rich, and Mannie’s wasn’t. Mabel always had the toys Mannie wanted, the clothes she wished she had. On top of that, everything just always seemed to go her way. When they were fifteen years old, Mabel had copied off Mannie’s paper in school. Somehow Mannie had ended up accused of cheating, while Mabel was deemed perfectly  innocent. Mannie had tried to defend herself, but Mabel’s charms defeated even the schoolmarm. On the way home, Mabel had yelled at Mannie, saying a true friend would not have tried to get her in trouble. She had benevolently forgiven Mannie. When they’d reached the crossroads where they parted ways, Mabel said she’d be the bigger person and let it go this time because that’s how good of a friend she was. Mannie hadn’t felt friendly while she was getting swatted in the barn that evening.

Mannie let out a small yelp as the she pinched her finger with a clothespin. She shook her head and gave herself a mental scolding. She was letting that postcard make her agitated and upset. She forced herself to think of something else.

A dog barked nearby and she thought about the toy puppy Mabel had broken when they played together as kids. She’d said she couldn’t be held responsible as the toy was cheap and not well-made.

The blue tablecloth she was hanging blew in the breeze, reminding Mannie of waves in the ocean. She thought about the time she’d been allowed to go the beach with Mabel and her family. She thought the day her swimming costume had torn, and Mabel wouldn’t let her borrow one of hers because she was sure it just wouldn’t fit. Funny how there’d been no concern the previous month when Mabel had borrowed one of Mannie’s dresses so she could pretend to be a washerwoman in a play the kids were putting on.

When she finished hanging the clothes, Mannie headed inside to finish dinner, still trying not to think of Mabel. It was James’ birthday and he’d requested a meat pie. As she began mixing the dough, more thoughts came unbidden. The feeling of the sticky, gooey dough in her fingers was very familiar to her. When she was growing up, every summer there was a pie baking contest at the county fair. One year, Mabel thought it would be a lark if they entered. She’d never baked a pie and it sounded like so much fun. For Mannie, baking pies was a regular chore, but there was a $15 prize and her mother had the best recipes in the county, so she agreed. The two of them gathered in Mannie’s kitchen. Mannie was going to make apple pie – it was her mother’s specialty – and she’d set aside a couple options for Mabel to choose from. But Mabel wanted to make the apple pie. She reasoned that it might be her only chance to make a pie and it really was very selfish of Mannie to not allow her to make the apple pie. Mannie relented and helped Mabel make an apple pie while she made do with a blueberry pie. In the end, Mabel won the contest. When Mannie suggested to Mabel they split the $15 dollars, she’d received a lecture on fair play, being a good loser, and the pitfalls of greed.

Mannie shoved her hands into the dough, pushing hard. She kneaded the dough with more force than necessary, her face red with the exertion. Why was she friends with this woman? Why did she continue to allow Mabel to make her miserable under the guise of friendship? Was it just loyalty? The fact that Mabel had been with her for forty years? But Mannie had allowed the friendship for those forty years. Why? She pounded the dough again. Surely the woman had some redeemable qualities. But what were they?

A door slammed from somewhere in the house as James arrived home, and one more memory flooded her mind. Mable and Mannie had loved poring over magazines with pictures of exotic places, beautiful buildings, and marvelous trips. Whenever Mabel’s father received a new magazine, she’d come running down to Mannie’s, the door slamming behind her as she came in, waving the magazine in the air. Mannie’s father would always mutter something about knocking and then head out to the barn. The two girls would spend the rest of the day planning the trips they’d take to see these beautiful places. They’d imagine what it would be like to stroll down the avenue on the arm of a handsome man, to sail across the water on a big ship, to see the sunset over a deep, red canyon.

Mannie added some flour to the dough with a small smile. See, they’d had their good moments, too. Her smile grew bigger at the thought of them huddled together over the magazines, giggling and whispering and conspiring for hours. She remembered the first time she saw the picture of the castle. She’d become obsessed with it. She’d convinced Mabel to let her cut the picture out and she hung it over her bed, dreaming about it at night. It became the place she wanted to visit more than anything, and they talked about going to see it together. Mannie even had plans of how she’d decorate it if she lived there.

Her hands stilled in the dough as realization slowly began to dawn on her. She didn’t know how she’d missed it – too focused on Mabel’s words, she guessed – but suddenly the image caught in her mind. She ran to the table and snatched up the postcard. Bits of dough and flour followed her, making a mess of the card, but she didn’t notice Turning it over, she stared at the picture on the front. It was the castle. Her castle. It was a different angle and time of day, but it was definitely the building she’d dreamed of seeing. And Mabel saw it. Without her. And then she sent a postcard to prove it. Mannie’s hands began to shake.

Wiping the dough off with a towel, she went hunting for a notecard and stamp. Once found, she sat down at the table and carefully addressed the envelope to her good friend, adding the stamp to the top corner. She picked up the pen left on the table from her morning list-making, but she didn’t write. Her words needed to be perfect and she let the pen hover over the paper as she crafted the perfect response in her head. She’d say that although she wasn’t sure why Mabel had been mad, she was glad all was forgiven. However – and she was going to underline the “however” twice – she’d been thinking about their friendship and things had to change. She was going to say that Mabel needed to treat her better, and that she deserved respect. She was going to say… Mannie sighed and dropped the pen on the table. She knew why there were still friends after all these years. Because Mannie had never had the guts to stand up for herself. After all these years, did she really think she could do it now?

She studied the postcard lying on the table. She read the description. Her beloved castle was actually City Hall in Buffalo, New York. For ten years she’d lived within a day’s travel of it. It had always seemed like something so unattainable, so far from her.  Her fingers longingly traced the outline of the building, around the arched windows, up the tall pointed roof. She turned the card over and stared at the words until they blurred in front of her eyes: “I’m not angry any more.” Mannie blinked, her eyes refocussing. Before she had time to think about it, she grabbed the pen, quickly wrote four short words, put the card in the envelope, and sealed it. Quickly, she stood up, knocking over her chair, and ran outside. Not allowing herself an opportunity to change her mind, she dropped the card in the mailbox on the corner. With a small smile she gave the box a quick salute, turned on her heel, and walked away.

Several days later, Mabel Bailey was sitting in a comfortable chair when a servant brought her the mail. A small card caught her eye and she quickly opened it. Confusion wrinkled her brow as she read the words in front of her: “But I still am.”

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A New Beginning

So, here it is – a new chapter in my life.  Honestly, I haven’t been sure what to call it – and being a word person, that’s been bothering me.  A new chapter?  A new season?

I think the problem is I don’t want it to be just another chapter.  I want it to be a whole new book.  I want this opportunity to be a complete starting over.  A new beginning. 

I guess “opportunity” is actually the best word for it.  And my prayer has been that I use this opportunity well.  I don’t want blow it or mess it up.  I think my tendencies – my flesh patterns – lend themselves to just wasting this opportunity.  So, yeah, that worries me a bit.  I lied.  That worries me a lot.

For those who don’t know, here’s a very quick backstory.  I’ve hated my job for several years now.  Recently, it’s been causing pretty severe depression – I’ve been angry and sobbing and mean and scary.  I hadn’t been having any luck finding a new job, so I was stuck at that one.  Recently, my parents decided, for the sake of my health, they would help me financially if I quit my job.  I was initially very excited about that, but then I became hesitant after thinking about being a 34-year old living off my parents money as they inch closer to retirement years.  After talking through my options with several trusted friends, praying, and having people pray for me, I decided it was time.

Honestly, I am scared out of my mind!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy to be out of that place – in fact, I’m still breathing hard from the happy dance I just did in my living room – but being jobless and having a mortgage isn’t actually a smart idea.  (Kids, don’t try this at home.)  But I’m also excited about the possibilities.

The idea is that I use this time to try and do some freelance editing and/or writing; to take some classes and workshops that will give me some certifications to add to my resume and help improve my photography and writing skills, and to actually write.  At the same time, I need to be looking for a new job, whether it’s full time or part time.  And I also want to start exercising on a regular basis… and maybe actually cook good meals so I can eat better… and clean and organize my house… and do dishes and laundry on a more regular and timely schedule… I think I’m actually going to be busier with no job than I was with a job.  I also want to use this opportunity to improve my relationship with God.  I’m making a point to set aside time to study the Bible and pray.

The absolute best possible scenario/dream-come-true situation:  I’ll write a couple best-selling novels and become wealthy and famous and never have to have a real job again in my life!  What?  It could happen! 

But honestly, my hope is that I can just take this time to become a better person – a better child of God, a better friend and daughter, a better writer… I want to grow up into the kind of person I want to be, spiritually, emotionally, physically… obviously, not so much financially...  

My prayer has literally been, “OK, God, here’s this new thing in my life now.  Please don’t let me blow it.”

I sometimes have doubts about whether I made the right decision, but what’s done is done now.  So, I’m going to trust God.  This is a huge thing for me because I struggle with trust.  I’m a doubter and agonizer by nature.  I’m a worst-case scenario kind of girl.  So, yes – terrified.  But also looking forward to what God can bring out of this. 

Thanks to all my friends who have been praying for me, supporting me, encouraging me.  (Don’t stop just yet.)

Oh, and if y'all read anything else on this blog to determine whether I have a shot at this writing thing, most of this stuff was written years ago... I've improved... I think...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Woman Caught in Adultery Monologue

Written and performed for a Good Friday service at my church.
After watching it again, the acting could be better, but I like what I wrote, for the most part.  I forgot 1 line about hearing stones being dropped to the ground.  If you watch closely, you can see the moment I realized I forgot the line. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Poem

This is the first "real" poem I ever wrote.  It's a little silly, but I was in middle school, so it's not too bad. :)  I might've taken a few liberties with the Biblical story...

On That Wonderful Night

There once was a lady named Mary
Who was hardly ever contrary,
And for lack of a better month,
We'll say this happened in February.

It was a man named Joseph she met,
and this man she was determined to get.
When she completed this goal,
They planned the best wedding yet.

In April a problem arose,
For an angel met her while she doze.
She was told she'd have a baby -
Son of the Creator of all that grows.

This caused quite a scandal in town
For they though Mary had been sleeping aroun'.
In truth it was divine coneption,
And her son would be wearing a crown.

In December they left for Bethlehem,
but there was no room for them.
Instead they were put in a barn
With a donkey, a cow and a hen.

Late that night he was bore.
Hay and rags he wore.
Shepherds came to worship Him,
For this was Christ the Lord.

On that miraculous, starry night,
The angels rejoiced with all their might,
For the Savior of the world was born
On that wonderful night.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Harry Potter - July 21, 2007

Going back in time a litte - this was a write-up I did after working at Barnes & Noble the night the last Harry Potter book was released.

As a bookseller at a major chain bookstore, we’ve been gearing up for the 7th - and last - Harry Potter book since January. The last month or so, though, has been the real start of Harry Potter-mania at our store. We were planning who would be working, what events we would do, how we would decorate, etc. But, most importantly, we were taking reservations nonstop... the amount of books that’d be coming into our store grew rapidly, and our final count was 1,300 or 1,400 preordered books.

Last week, all the employees were given the rules for dealing with the books once they arrived – it was crazy. They’d come in boxes shrink-wrapped together. We weren’t allowed to open the shrink-wrap, and we certainly weren’t allowed to open a box. We couldn’t take pictures of the boxes, even wrapped up; we couldn’t discuss whether the books had arrived or not. We basically had to act as if the single book that we were focusing all of our attention on didn’t even exist. (Incidentally, the regular books arrived on Tuesday and the audio and deluxe books arrived on Thursday.)

On Thursday, the day before the party and subsequent midnight sale, 4 out of every 5 calls was a customer asking about reserving a book (“sorry, too late”), confirming their order (“yes, you’ll get your book; we promise”), or asking about details for the party and how to pick up the book (“you need to get a wristband”). Employees stayed late that night in order to turn the bookstore into Hogwarts and train stations and other Potter locales. They worked on getting crafts ready and moved every chair and table off the main floor.

On Friday, the first person arrived at 5 in the morning! By the time we opened at 9, a line had formed halfway down the sidewalk. Cheers went up as people got their wristbands, and some of them literally danced out the store, discussing which letter they’d received and what time they were coming back. Our festivities started at 7 PM, but I arrived for work at 6 in order to attend the pre-party meeting and get debriefed. At that point, the store was just starting to get more crowded than normal but it wasn’t too bad yet. The break room was full of my coworkers and managers, as well as about a dozen volunteers, most in varying degrees of costume. A few of us, myself included, didn’t have a costume and we were promptly given a Hogwarts hat and pin to wear for the evening, as well as a wand, if we so desired. I figured the wand could make a good weapon against unruly children, so I selected a nice, green, woodsy wand with a rope handle. I gotta admit, I felt a bit cool walking around the store with my wand. Because of the black button-up shirt I was wearing, along with the hat and wand, I had many people tell me I looked like a cop, so I found myself dubbed a Hogwarts MP. I was assigned to work with another coworker at the cash register for the evening.

By the time I left the meeting, the store was getting very crowded and costumes were becoming more abundant. The registers were pretty quiet, so I was allowed to wander and check out the events for a little while. We had a greeter in full wizard costume who had a sorting cauldron (since we couldn’t find a sorting hat); each person through the door could pick a piece of paper and be sorted into their proper “class.” We had a costume contest, a wand-making station (in the religion section for those who like irony), a wizard hat-making station, face painting, trivia games, picture frame decorating, and a cardboard Harry that people could have a Polaroid taken with. There were colored arrows taped all over the floor to direct people to each station.

After about half an hour, I was sent to CVS to buy every bit of Polaroid film they had. When I returned, the party had definitely hit its stride. There were children, adults, and teens everywhere. Adults were mostly sitting in the aisles and loitering in the open spaces created by the lack of chairs and tables; some had even brought in lawn chairs. The kids and teens were going from event to event, collecting their souvenirs and leaving a trail of glitter and feathers everywhere they went. Probably 3/4ths of the people were in a costume of some sort.

Back at the register, I had very few customers. A few people with deer-in-the-headlight expressions came though, claiming they had no idea all this was going on or they never would have come that night. I kept quiet, wondering what rock they’d been hiding under for the last few days. Occasionally, a customer would come buy a book to read while they waited, but most people didn’t bother to pay for their diversions.

Sometime around 8:30 or 9, we hit our maximum capacity; sometime around 10:30, we decided to enforce our maximum capacity. At that point, a line began forming outside, and no one was allowed in until someone else came out. We began lining people up at the registers around 11:30 and by 11:40 all 8 of our front registers were manned and boxes of books were being brought up. The cheers were so loud we couldn’t even hear the mangers, who were talking on the intercom, trying to keep the lines orderly. A reporter from the Washington Post was taking pictures and interviewing people as we announced the winners of the costume contest and gave them their prizes. A cheer went up at 10 ‘til 12, 5 ‘til 12, and, of course, 12 o’clock. A moan went up when they were told we couldn’t actually open the boxes until 12:01, so it would be after midnight, but at 12:01, when the boxes were ripped open, the noise was deafening.

We had a manager directing people to specific registers, and from 12:01 until 1:30, I don’t remember slowing down once. I was grabbing books, sliding credit cards, and counting money so fast, I felt like I had 4 arms. Volunteers behind us were constantly carrying stacks of books to each of us or running to fetch the occasional audio or deluxe version so that we never had to miss a beat. Fortunately, we received a lot of compliments about how fast and efficient we were. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m estimating we served about 700 customers in an hour and a half.

It was after we closed that I began hating the party. The amount of stray books strewn across the store gave the impression that a tornado had hit. Our information desk had stacks so tall you could barely see over them. To put things in perspective, on a typical night we have 2 or 3 people responsible for collecting and putting away all stray books and magazines, walking every single aisle to straighten every single shelf, doing the trash, and bringing out carts for shelving the next morning. We’re usually done 30 to 40 minutes after closing time. Last night we had about 12 people working, we skipped the shelf maintenance, and it still took us an hour.

Overall, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’m not a big Harry Potter fan, and I don’t claim to understand the hysteria this book caused, but I decided to just have a positive attitude for the day and allowed myself to be caught up in the excitement. Towards the end, when the clock was ticking toward midnight, I was actually having a lot of fun. I’m glad I was there and had a part in the whole event. That said, I’m also really glad this is the last book.