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Collecting Harry Potter Books, and a Magical Tattoo

Blogging again. I’ve had a productive day for someone working from home who slept in to an ungodly hour—I haven’t been able to sleep before 4am every day since this happened (10 days?) and wake up getting only 5 or 6 hours sleep. That’s really not sustainable for me or good for me with my diabetes and the diabetes fatigue, so it all caught up to me and I fell asleep at like 8pm, finally, and was out.

Then I scrambled to start and catch up with doing the social media for my job at the library, and put a few books up on the site, filling in the information on the ones that were up with only pictures, so I’m hoping the people liking all my instagram posts will travel over and check out the books and find one they love and have to have. It would help me financially, but I get more than that from each sale—I get a sense of accomplishment and happiness that I get to share a book I treasure with someone else, whoever they are. It’s exciting.

This book story focuses (like my last one) on a book connected to a tattoo I have. The second tattoo I ever got was a Harry Potter one, his glasses with a lightning bolt strike connected to them, small and on the inside of my right wrist in black. Simple. I got it with another librarian I was working with one day when we were bored and decided that weekend we’d go visit my past tattoo artist (about 45 minutes away, but I wouldn’t trust anyone else, he is so amazing, check out Zaza ink if you’re in the tri-state area, for real!) and get Harry Potter tattoos since we both love the books so much.

The tattoo is based on a ring I used to wear in high school, it was silver with the little lightning bolt sticking up off of it from the glasses, and for some reason as a writer it used to bring me peace and remind me that I was indeed a good writer, and had to keep going. Writing is tough, and it’s not really writer’s block I get, but hesitation that it won’t be good enough, so I put it off. This ring helped me realize that I just had to do it, and got me through a lot of writing slumps.

More than that, though, the ring came to give me strength. I won’t go into the dark details of my many hopeless and helpless moments peppered through my high school experience, but those “dark times” as I call them, were always almost one hundred percent finished the second I put this ring on. I would stare down at my hand and slowly but surely, I’d smile. J K Rowling’s story inspires me — I could be a writer, a published author, and share my ideas with fans, and build a world and a story that would connect with people, I could do it just like she did.

And even more than that, the ring reminded me of magic. I don’t believe in magic in the base sense, but the ideas of fate and things happening for a reason always hit home with me, and so I’d come out of the dark times with the ring on and it would give me this bravery I didn’t remember I could feel. And a lightheartedness. The happiness the books bring me themselves was contained in the ring.

Then I lost it. So the tattoo would ensure I would never be without it again—I could look to my wrist always and feel those things, remember those feelings and try to reach them again into my adulthood and my adult challenges. And it works. I still do the thing where I look at it, stare at it for a while while I try to breathe, when things get to be too much, and it almost always works.

We went to get the tattoos, my friend got the three stars on the inside of the first edition pages on her elbow, and we were lucky to even get in as my tattoo artist had gotten famous in the intervening years between my first and second—he had a cancellation at the exact time we showed up, though, so… fate? Perhaps.

That is to say, this book (the one pictured) has a story of its own, but it is borne in my love for the Harry Potter books that can only be articulated by the story of my tattoo.

I don’t know when it started, but I have a collection I’ve built of foreign Harry Potter books. I don’t speak another language and I’m not good at them so I probably never will (except some Gaelic, but that’s another tale), but that’s not the point—the point is the cover art, the interior art and fonts, the editions themselves and the fact that I have such a connection to the American ones, but others across the world have their own special editions, their own beloved cover art that brings them back to the time they first entered the wizarding world.

That idea struck me one day, and I looked up different covers of different editions from Spanish to French to Indian and Russian, all the countries I could think of, as I knew there were editions in nearly every language because it’s Harry Potter for crying out loud, the most popular book series in the entire world. I found some covers that stuck with me so much I just had to have them, and this book was the ultimate.

Ever since I saw this edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Swedish edition, I felt this pull to have it. Like a piece of artwork, I feel this with certain books, and some I cannot afford (maybe one day) but most I can, and most I find with my book hunting skills for little money. This one was apparently so beautiful, however, that many people online wanted it, and they couldn’t find it anywhere.

So I was on the hunt. It took me a while, but I finally found one—on a Swedish website. I don’t speak Swedish, remember, so this was a problem. But I was determined to have this edition, this gorgeous edition that made me feel that pull. So no, I did not teach myself Swedish, but I did copy and paste each little word on each little button into Google Translate, and slowly but surely I found “purchase” and “pay” and what I needed to buy it.

However, I found once I changed the currency to American dollars (via Google currency calculator) that it was around 40 dollars (doable of course! I almost jumped with glee) and shipping…not doable. They didn’t ship to the United States.

I was back at zero. I gave up on the hunt for a bit, realizing each time as I went meticulously through every single avenue of finding and purchasing books that I would not be able to get one in this country.

I considered moving to Ireland.

Well, I always consider moving to Ireland. That will come up in other posts, but it was just another reason I should move there, I decided. I could get this book easily, then. Needless to say, I was stuck in the United States at that moment, and I was bummed.

Months later the book flew into my head again, and I dreamed of the cover and had to look it up. I went to that Swedish website again, and fawned over it, and felt angry that all my attempts had failed. I hate failure—I have a very hard time with it.

So I was at it again—every Swedish website I could find that would maybe have it in stock and simultaneously ship to the United States was a no-go, but eventually I hit on one. I bought the book for whatever it was (I think 67 dollars come to think of it, in American money) and entered my shipping address, without a prompt saying in Swedish that I could not ship to the United States. The sale went through online, and then I had to wait. The confirmation went to my email and I had to Google translate that too, but there was no telling when I would get it, just that I had paid for it.

So there was a chance it wouldn’t come. It took 6 weeks, and I definitely thought at many points that the address was not accepted and they just cancelled the sale, but the charged stayed on my bank account, I was given no refund, and even then I thought maybe that was how it worked internationally—if they couldn’t send it from that obscure website, they just didn’t, and they kept my money either way.

But it came. I’ll never forget how I almost didn’t want to touch it, but I opened it so fast I probably could have ripped the binding if it wasn’t a brand-new, seemingly untouched book. It could have been used, and I still would have loved it, but something about its shiny newness sparkled at me and I felt so attached immediately. I shared it to my bookstagram and got lots of jealous comments, lots of likes, and I felt pride like it was my own creation. The inside illustrations are ones I’ve shown very few people that are interested in books and come to my apartment, so they feel secretive, again because I don’t know anyone else with this edition, so hard to get in the United States for some reason, so hard to hunt.

That hunt ultimately was a blessing, though, because the outcome became so prized in my collection, and quickly became (despite my other foreing editions) my favorite. I still have the book propped up so I can see the cover on my bookshelf, not just the spine, as it deserves (to me) it’s own standout place in my apartment, wherever I live. It’s just a star, and the meaning behind it goes way back, and I think about it sometimes when I catch it out of the corner of my eye, that hunt and how long and how much effort it took, and the prize at the end, and how beautiful it is.

I mean, yes I’m geeking out a bit, but when you find an enchanting book that seems meant for you, you can’t help but geek out. At least for me. And really, I have a Harry Potter tattoo on my wrist, could you expect anything else? ;)

Bye for now—good luck getting through this quarantine wherever you are in the world. I, for one, have a book to go take off my shelf and page through :)

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