Head to downtown theatre to pick up Ikuni at 9:30 PM. On the way, realize how tired I am and wonder if our going to Barnes and Noble’s midnight Harry Potter party was such a good idea. Turn off audio book, The Corrections, because I keep rewinding to re-listen. Turn on radio and a pounding Nine Inch Nails song wakes me up. Pick up Ikuni, drive to B & N and find a parking space a block away in front of a Thomas Kincaid gift shop. Are given our yellow paper bracelet with the line number 241. Ikuni charges to the manga section. I amble to the information desk and, while surrounded by a multitude of faces donned with round glasses and lightening bolts, ask if they carry Jonathan Franzen’s book of essays, How to be Alone. They have it and employee takes off toward the literary theory section. Have hard time following as crowd of Harry look-alikes cross between us. Book of essays finally in hand, find a spot on the floor and sit against the wall to do something I haven’t done in a very long time—read a book. Not a magazine. Not a newspaper article. Not an audio CD. But a book with ink and paper and more than 100 pages. While scanning the contents, a mom with a sniffling Hermione in tow walks by and says, “That’s what happens when you don’t hold on to things.” After reading a couple of essays, hear Ikuni’s laugh. Find her sitting in a comfy chair surrounded by five teenagers who are asking her questions and then listening as she shares her knowledge of all things anime and gives correct Japanese pronunciations for names like Kurama and Kamui. Decide to take a stroll around the store. Can’t go down some aisles, because they are filled with sitting people—some reading, some talking, some fanning themselves. Make my way to the music/movie room. Based on the review on CultureSpace and the fact that I couldn’t find it in our local video store, decide to buy the foreign film, A Man and a Woman, with some of my birthday money. Next, find books I’m interested in (Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian and Nick Hornby’s How to be Good) and read a few pages. Come across Blink, which I recently read a review for in the paper. Looks good. Will possibly get that with left over birthday funds. It’s almost midnight. Yellow bracelet-ed customers with numbers 1 thru 25 are instructed to line up. Eight cashiers are at the ready. The announcer counts, “Ten, nine, eight, seven…” Everyone joins in, “Six, five, four, three, two, one!” Forty minutes later we emerge from the store with our coveted copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. On the drive home, Ikuni updates me on the HP fanfic she’s writing. Get home a little after 1 AM. Sleepy but happy.