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Nothing a Little Harry Potter Can’t Cure

Yesterday, I was in a state that could best be described as tweaky.  It was obviously coloured by the fact that we had to gut and organize the entire basement in a day–a feat that appeared impossible before we began, but for the sake of not distracting you from the true tsuris of this story, was miraculously completed with almost two hours to spare.  The gutting was to take stuff to the dump as well as prepare items for an upcoming garage sale.  Lindsay came over afterward to marvel at all the space as well as pick up some baby items we had outgrown (and I slipped the plastic uterus in there because, damn it, someone else should have to store that thing for a bit and she is so much more responsible and organized).

The larger problems came in the form of a wave of upcoming changes–and I don’t do well with change–followed by two bills that arrived on Friday which amounted to well over a thousand dollars.  We did not expect either of these bills since they were both wrong and from 2008 and 2009, respectively.  So Josh is dealing with getting both cleared, but it’s just more things on the plate that we didn’t need right now.

But that isn’t the thing that sent me over the edge.

In the morning, I was trying to find an old email from my sister and I couldn’t find it based on searches with all possible keywords.  So I returned to my old email account to search there, since all my old emails imported from over there a few weeks ago.  And when I opened the site, there was an ad with flash and it downloaded a virus to my computer.

I had never heard such a crazy-ass thing either, but as soon as the websit opened, without clicking on anything, my computer went crazy with strange pop-ups and quite soon after that, went completely and utterly dead.  I couldn’t open any programs, I couldn’t uninstall this thing, I couldn’t do. freakin’. anything.

So I called my Daddy who came over at night and with four hours of work, was able to delete the virus and restore my computer to its pristine state.  Though for a bit, it seemed like the only way around this was to erase my entire computer and reload the operating software, which would mean losing all of the files I had stored on this computer.  Seriously wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.

Instead, I pulled out Harry Potter, jumping into book five.  Some people secretly suck their thumbs and others eat chocolate, but I reread Harry Potter books when I get stressed.  Reading them is a little like hugging a security blanket, though much heavier and much more papery.

I figured I’d start at five and go through book seven and that would take me through a few weeks if I read them slowly.  Which will take me past the wave of changes.

So spill…what do you do to self-soothe when you’re stressed?  Is there anyone else who rereads Harry Potter?  I have no memory of what I did pre-Harry Potter.

And for the love of G-d, load a good malware removal program to your computer.  I thought Norton was enough to protect me, but it’s not, and some viruses are set up to not allow you to download any applications that could delete them, so do yourself a favour and put one on your computer BEFORE that happens.  Microsoft makes a free one.

Oh–and if you live in America–happy Fourth of July.


1 LJ { 07.04.10 at 8:06 am }

I would like to clear the air to say I am neither organized, nor responsible.

Also, her cleaning job was nothing shot of epic. I know the day was one challenge upon the next, but you’re handling it all with such grace.

2 Bea { 07.04.10 at 8:12 am }

Oh wow. I don’t think Harry Potter would have been strong enough.

What do I do to self-soothe? I’m not entirely sure. I think I am more inclined to go to pieces than to fall back on a tried-and-true self-soothing method, but you have given me a very good idea.

Mental note: get self-soothing method.

Thanks, Mel!


3 R { 07.04.10 at 8:18 am }

To self soothe, I watch The Young and the Restless or I go online and reread through past story lines to figure out where the new story line is going. I know, I need a better life!

4 Lucy { 07.04.10 at 8:25 am }

I read HP for comfort reading too. Did it often during treatment.

In addition to a malware program, get an external hard drive and back up all your files. Losing all my photos scares me so I back up regularly.

5 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 07.04.10 at 8:31 am }

I listen to OK Computer to self-soothe.

For the love of G-d, back up your files, Mel! Preferably redundant automatic backups including at least one off-site. I have an external hard drive, a server in the house that backs up the PCs automatically, and Dropbox. Dropbox would probably be enough because it is fantastic and life-changing.

Someone who has spent many thousands of dollars paying to restore lost files from more than one dead hard drive, who has other desperately important files that are lost forever, and who may finally have learned her lesson

6 Heather { 07.04.10 at 8:59 am }

I reread those books all the time. I have a whole stack of books I’ve never read that I want to get through but yet I still find time to reread that series over and over.

7 HereWeGoAJen { 07.04.10 at 9:11 am }

Oh, Harry Potter is magnificent. I am listening to book seven in the car right now so I keep wanting to go drive somewhere. Then I think about just reading the book in the house, but that would ruin the car experience, so I don’t.

Pre-Harry Potter, I had other books. And I still do, I have lots of beautiful comfort books.

8 Megan { 07.04.10 at 10:20 am }

When I am really upset or stressed out, I self-soothe by cleaning. And I don’t mean sweeping the floor and putting away dishes kind of cleaning; I mean taking apart faucets to clean inside the backs of the knobs, taking a toothbrush to grout, and re-caulking tubs kind of cleaning. I’m pretty sure it is an attempt to assert control; I may not be able to fix whatever is making me upset, but I can make my house sparkle like new, dangit.

9 M { 07.04.10 at 10:27 am }

I totally reread HP. Probably once a year or so… In fact I may need new copies soon as mine are starting to fall apart!

Hmm… Soothing for me? Gardening or crochet… A like a project where you can see immediate results.

(oh I also reread Anne of Green Gables regularly too…)

10 a { 07.04.10 at 10:35 am }

Depends on the stressor! If I’m anxious, I clean. If I’m angry, it’s best if I walk. If I am generally stressed, I read or watch TV. If it’s just been a long f’ing day and I’m tired of everyone and everything, it’s Bejewelled Blitz or Xbox or some other mindless game. Apparently, I am a highly stressed individual, because I do most of these every day. 🙂

I do find Harry Potter to be a fabulous escape from reality. But sometimes I get sad when it’s over, so I only reread them occasionally.

Glad to hear that your epic task is complete!

11 Christa { 07.04.10 at 10:38 am }

I love Harry Potter!! And I didn’t get hooked until the release of the 4th or 5th movie. I don’t know which I’m more excited about: my upcoming IVF cycle in September or the movie release of the Deathly Hallows in November. My husband has this weird rule about never reading the same book twice but I always reread the ones I love the most. Otherwise, why have a bookshelf if you’re only going to read the book once?!

12 Terry Elisabeth { 07.04.10 at 11:12 am }

Anne of Green Gables in books and DVDs does it for me. If the stress is so intense I want to explode, I dive into the next three books and the other series such as Emily of New Moon. And I watch the Little Princess DVD and The Secret Garden DVD.

13 meggo { 07.04.10 at 11:56 am }

Like you, Harry Potter is my go-to lovey in times of stress. But I always start from Book 1 and read them in order, even though the story much more riveting from Book 5 on.

14 Mrs. Gamgee { 07.04.10 at 1:20 pm }

HP is one of my comforts too. I actually just purchased new copies of the first two because my original ones were falling apart from being read at least once a year. I also play video games to self soothe. Wii, Mahjong, any number of pop cap games… the numbing effect is a good thing sometimes.

15 Myndi { 07.04.10 at 1:57 pm }

Hmmm…yeah, I think I’d have to figure something out. Really, I suppose I write to calm myself down which is why there isn’t much I don’t write about on my blog (sometimes this may not be so good!).
Generally speaking, I spend a lot of time carrying some sort of stress, and I’m just used to it. Big stress means writing, and maybe a hot bath and a book. I used to go for long drives, but that just seems irresponsible these days so…you make do with what ya got!

16 Jonelle { 07.04.10 at 3:10 pm }

I reread Harry Potter too, but I can’t start at book 5 as I feel I’m cheating on the series. I don’t reread it to self soothe, just reread it for fun. I usually put on a stupidly funny movie like ‘Dodgeball’ or ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Or sometimes I have a Friends marathon and start at season 5 or 6 and finish the series. I think I might just start rereading Harry Potter to self soothe.

17 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.04.10 at 3:34 pm }

Oh, I’m so sorry this happened to you.

I love that you called him “Daddy.”

18 Bionic Baby Mama { 07.04.10 at 3:39 pm }

Harry Potter got me through giardia. That’s what I did all night, when too nauseated to sleep. They are great for distraction and yet don’t require riveted attention. Perfect.

For deep emotional angst, I favor Amy Bloom’s short story collection, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You.

When I finish something big, my reward book is Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

19 Bionic Baby Mama { 07.04.10 at 3:40 pm }

And yes to Terry Elizabeth on the Anne and Emily books!

20 My Reality { 07.04.10 at 5:56 pm }

I unfortunately turn to food to self-soothe. Could explain why I gained so much weight during during our struggles to have a baby.

I am glad your computer was returned to its normal state!

21 shauna { 07.04.10 at 7:23 pm }

My 14 year old daughter re-reads them over and over and over again …I always thought it was out of boredom …but your security blanket/stressy analogy makes perfect sense.

22 Sarah { 07.04.10 at 10:32 pm }

I re-watch all ten seasons of Friends from start to finish. I used to do that before my surgeries, since I would have months beforehand when I’d be in too much pain to do much else besides work on a puzzle and watch tv.
I’m pretty sure my little sister does the exact same thing with the Harry Potter books though :).
Happy 4th!

23 Sara { 07.04.10 at 11:56 pm }

Sorry to hear you had such a stressful situation with your computer…they can have minds of their own sometimes.

When I am stressed you can find me cleaning the house like a madwoman, walking my dogs, or reading a good book. Cleaning helps me release the stressful energy, walking my pups helps me relax, and reading helps take my mind of things.

I do agree with you about Harry Potter…those books can just take you so far away from reality sometimes! 🙂 Happy 4th!

24 Mina { 07.05.10 at 1:26 am }

Oh, so it is ok to admit I am not alone in using HP as the soothing comfy blanket! GREAT! Right, so…
I am Mina and I read Harry Potter over and over again, especially in times of emotional insecurity.
I also read Isaac Asimov’s robot series when I want to feel good. There is a scene when two robots (key to the story) hold hands and that makes me smile through my tears every.single.time.
And then there is watching David Suchet’s Hercule Poirot. Almost as good as reading a good policier (mostly Agatha Christie, but she is not the only one) – but this is for milder cases.

For the soothing to be complete, I munch chocolate. If it’s bad, than I go for the expensive stuff, exquisite alcohol filled bonbons, Belgian pralines, Swiss delicacies, etc. And I listen to crooners – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holiday, The Andrew Sisters… I have a good cry and I feel better afterwards.

And I have to admit that I read HP 5 to 7 more than the previous books. They are just meatier – although my favourite movie still remains the 3rd.

Oh, it is so nice to know that I am not alone in doing this! ;-))

25 tj { 07.05.10 at 5:01 am }

I cook things I’ve never cooked before, typically things far out of my skill range, but still manage to pull off; I think it’s due to my fragile state, it works out to save the husband from a meltdown. The alternative can only be explained as ocd cleaning, or a mixture of the two, where I cook a giant meal, then scrub the house into submission. All of this occurs with a specific set of playlists that range from 1hr to 6hrs (depending on the cooldown time that is required) of everything from the rat pack and billie holiday to the hollies and the boswell sisters.

26 Mic @ IF Crossroads { 07.05.10 at 7:25 am }

Oh Mel, SO glad your daddy was able to restore everything! I will second the idea of an external harddrive to back your computer up. I did that earlier this year after loosing almost 10 yrs worth of files and I’m so happy that I have it now. No matter what, I’ll be able to carry my photos, documents, etc. with me no matter what computer I use. They are about $75 at Best Buy or Staples – money well spent.

As for soothing and comfort? I eat. Icecream is my comfort drug of choice. It makes me happy.

27 Elizabeth { 07.05.10 at 10:53 am }

Wow, that all just sounds BEYOND stressful. Sounds like you have a great team backing you up though. Including Harry himself 🙂 I was starting to get the feeling over the past few days that you’ve been in a bit of a – hm, I won’t say fragile, but – something like that – state – just from FB updates and stuff. Hope the coming changes will not be as difficult to navigate as it feels like they are right now. ((((hugs))))

28 NotTheMama { 07.05.10 at 11:24 am }

I went through a time in college where I would sit for hours and weave a basket if I needed to think. Very therapeutic! Unfortunately, now I just drink another Dr Pepper and have some chocolate.

29 Foxy Popcorn { 07.05.10 at 3:04 pm }

Hi Mel, I read your post and was all ready to share my comment, but then I got distracted as I read thru all the other comments, and found myself on a few awesome new blogs! I love it when that happens 🙂 And I even remembered to come back to where I started and finally leave my comment!

I am a cleaner. Sometimes my house gets so clean that I have to move on to clean my best friends home. My dh is the same way. If you come over and the house is spotless you can be assured that there is some emotional trauma we are enduring. There is something about being in control and productive that is reassuring to me when other things in my life feel out of control. and I usually work up a sweat, so it is a good way to get some of that anxious energy out of my system.

Then there are the times that I am just overwhelmed – thank goodness for Tetris and other iPhone games!

I really do like the idea of specifically and intentionally adding these things to my coping toolkit.

30 Holly { 07.05.10 at 5:32 pm }

Yes, books are like comfort food to me. Reading Harry Potter books make me feel warm and safe. My real vice is Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series. There’s a familiarity to them that just makes me feel balanced. And also watching Masterpiece Mystery. Particularly the Miss Marple series.

Happy 4th to you also, and so sorry about the computer and the bills. Super stressful indeed.

31 Kristin { 07.06.10 at 1:27 pm }

Reading or being crafty is my way of self-soothing. I have reread the Harry Potter books. In fact, I’ve done it many times.

Glad you saved your ‘puter.

32 Jendeis { 07.06.10 at 9:16 pm }

Three cheers for Papa Mel!

Self-soothing by Jendeis: 1) The West Wing (any episode, but the first season is the best); 2) Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books; 3) a cuppa tea and something carb-related.

Good on ya with the cleaning!

33 Kir { 07.16.10 at 10:19 am }

I suck my thumb and read Harry Potter or chick lit. 🙂 and oh Law & Order, L& O always helps.

glad he got that yucky virus out.

34 Michelle { 08.01.10 at 8:48 pm }

Harry Potter helps me too. Whenever I’m upset and I feel stressed or angry, I read Harry Potter. They’re my favorite books and I love them and they are so important to me. They take you to a different world and they make you feel safe so I read them to feel better just like you.

35 Jane { 08.22.10 at 9:54 am }

Yes, I too stress read Harry Potter! it’s fantastic 🙂

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