Monday, July 23, 2007

Welcoming the rain to sit down with Harry

As a kid, I enjoyed a rainy summer day every now and then. After weeks of sunshine, sometimes a gray day made the decision of how to spend the daylight hours easier. If there was a movie I wanted to see, a book I was dying to read, a project I was longing to tackle, I welcomed those wet afternoons as an excuse to hole myself up in my room and have some time to myself. It erased any chance of feeling guilty about not going outside to enjoy the sunshine or bike over to the swim club to spend yet another day there with friends.

Today was that kind of day. The rain woke us up a little after six, so I got out of bed to close the windows, and we pulled the comforter up to our necks. We've had pleasant weather of late -- nothing like the 90-degree temperatures and horrendous humidity we've endured recently -- so the cool breezes accompanied by the drumbeat of the rain outside were a welcome variation.

After Casey left, I slept in until 10, awaking to my alarm because I didn't want to let too much of the day get away. My plans were simple: pour some cereal and crack open the seventh Harry Potter book. Casey finished it on Sunday -- nine hours of consciousness after she'd first opened it -- leaving it to me for the rest of the week. I decided to divide my day up by reading for a few hours, then taking a break and painting the one exposed wall inside the newly finished closet to cover any plaster and sheetrock dust that may have lingered. Having lunch -- and watching Entourage -- followed, but then it was back to the book for another hour before I got in the shower and came to work.

Were it not for the rainy day, I may have been tempted elsewhere. I should get out and run a few miles this week, but the constant, sometimes heavy, rain nixed that option today. No, today was made for one of two sloth-like activities: reading or couch potatoing.

With 36 chapters and an epilogue in the book, I figured I can knock it out in four segments, reading nine chapters at a time. With the Potter books, it's better to divide it into chapters, even though so many of them end as cliffhangers. I made it through the first nine chapters in the first sitting, but my afternoon session -- including the commute to work -- provided enough time only to get through five of the next nine. I was hoping to knock out 18 chapters today, then finish it tomorrow before the Mets game. There's still a chance I can do that -- and I'll use my break to set up the closet -- but it will take some diligence on my part, because I'm not going to lug the book with me to Shea Stadium, so I lose the option to read on the train into the city. Worst case, though, I'll get to about 30 chapters, meaning I can finish the series on Wednesday morning.

I love how the Harry Potter books come out in the summer. They take me back to those grade-school days when my friends and I would sign up for the summer reading club at the library -- and Matt would kick my ass, plowing through books much faster than I ever did. He still flies through them, devouring Stephen King tomes in days, if not hours. Were I to read those -- I'm just not into them -- they'd take weeks, I'm sure.

And though this is the last of the Harry Potter books, I'm dying to get through it, both so that I'm not spoiled and also so I can discuss it with Casey and others. I'm not worried about the end of the series -- I can always go back and start them again, my retention of even moderate details is so minimal -- I'm just excited for the conclusion.

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