If you read the things I write on here, some of this will be redundant, but I’m realizing a lot of new things about my life. I’ve written some about what a heavy kid I was–my outlook on life was life is hard, the world is doomed, everyone I love is headed for hell–pray for them, protect yourself, you’re unlovable, everyone’s depressed, everyone secretly wants to die, love is pain, you are broken, times are dire, there is no relief except through constant repentance. This, plus being an only child, affected the type of childhood I had; it basically meant I didn’t really have one. Granted, I have only a handful of tiny, insignificant memories of my childhood and most of them are school-based. I have one memory of being a child at home, playing in the backyard, building a mote around a tiny plastic baby in the mud and trying to redirect water through a folded leaf like in Fern Gully. I don’t know why I remember this moment and I don’t know why I’ve forgotten nearly everything else. I mostly hung around my mom, her adult friends from church and her Mary Kay customers. I do have vague images of friends coming over and us making up dances together; I know that was a youthful thing I liked to do. I don’t remember much else about what I was into, but I wasn’t allowed to be into a lot of “kid” things. For example, during Halloween, instead of trick or treating, I’d have to go to church to watch a video about what the holiday was really all about and it’d be footage of teens killing cats and drinking each other’s blood and hailing satan. There was always some sort of darkness underneath the world’s view of fun that I was consistently alerted to and reminded of and most activities or fun events the world took part in were off limits to me. (This is probably why I still fish for darkness underneath upbeat exteriors.) I do remember that one of the first “kid” things I loved was Harry Potter. The first book came out when I was 12 and it was the first fantasy genre thing that I cared about and I was so, unbelievably into it. I remember the feeling of sitting on my bed and reading it and how good the simple act of sitting and reading felt, for the first time. I had previously enjoyed reading, but I had never enjoyed reading like that. Rowling’s writing is so engrossing and I loved being taken away by her, in a way I didn’t allow myself to be taken away by anybody else. I devoured the books as they were released until book three, when my mom took the series away from me based on a segment she heard on a Christian radio station warning parents about the dangers of dabbling in the occult. After I left home in my 20s, I tried twice revisit the books, but felt daunted and distracted and overwhelmed by a whole world of material I wanted to experience on top of tending to my personal responsibilities and I stopped each time.

Well, I have a lot of time right now and I’m exploring a lot of things that make me feel childlike with wonder. This is somewhat of a sidenote but I had a really positive reaction to the new Ghostbusters because it was made by a woman I adore and starred women I adore so I felt invited into it in a way I have never felt invited into that specific genre of entertainment. (I watched the original the day before seeing the new one, I had never seen it before and had never cared to see it before.) I left the theater feeling great and wanting to find more ways to escape into pure enjoyment and abandon in ways that have previously felt silly to me and I started actively seeking ways to do that. My enjoyment of the new Ghostbusters had a lot to do with why I watched Stranger Things, actually. Anything that includes the word “demogorgon” in the credits would previously have not appealed to me in the slightest, but my horizons are expanding, and I enjoyed Stranger Things, too.

Because of my decision to take this year off of teaching to make a documentary, this is the first time in my life I don’t feel directly responsible for anybody else’s happiness or wellbeing. Growing up, I was made to feel responsible for my mom’s happiness and from my teen years until a few months ago, I’ve been directly responsible for the happiness and wellbeing and emotional stability and growth and academic education of classrooms full of children (as well as a handful of adults) who’ve needed me profoundly.

With the extra energy I have for myself right now, I have been exploring both actively and mentally what makes me happy, what makes me feel free, what is fun for me. I still have strong desires to help people, but I am not challenged daily to SAVE THE WORLD. Or, I suppose, I am not challenging myself daily to save the world.

This is all leading up to the fact that GUESS WHAT I just picked up a used copy of book three, The Prisoner of Azkaban, which I was halfway through reading before my mom took it away in ‘99 and I’m even more excited to read it now then I was back then and I want to text a picture of it to my mom along with the words YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO and you know what, as a matter of fact, I’m going to do that, because this is my year of being the child that I didn’t get to be back then and this is where I begin, with HARRY POTTER BOOKS AND TEXT-BASED TANTRUMS LOOK OUT WORLD I’M ON THE LOOSE.