No Doughnut Left Behind.

I left for the airport last night with enough spare time to herd a pack of water buffalo across the great state of Montana and STILL make it back to the Albany International Airport in time for my flight. This, thanks to my neurotic compulsion to arrive a thousand years early to everything in life. I can’t even help it.

I breezed through security, whispered a rather forlorn not today  to the glazed doughnut holes desperately calling my name from the Dunkin doughnuts display case, and immediately headed to my favorite Albany Airport panini stand on account of my highly irrational but very real fear of being hungry. I was going to be on an airplane for fifty whole minutes, and woman cannot live on miniscule packages of peanuts alone! We’ve already discussed my tendency, when Kellan and I are about to travel, to simply let the food in our fridge dwindle down to nothing like some sort of sad little snowman under a dirty heat lamp. True to form, I had been existing on puddles of scrambled eggs and some wilted spinach for a solid 48 hours-an experiment that I have repeated so frequently and consistently that I ought to apply for government funding. Crazy eyes and all, when I cleared the body scanner and collected my purse it was TURKEY AVACADO CHIPOTLE PANINI YES PLEASE. Walking up to the panini stand, I was greeted by my favorite, slighty awkward blonde-haired panni-stand worker buddy.

It was in that moment that I experienced a slight internal crisis, because DEAR GOODNESS HOW MUCH AM I HERE IF I KNOW THE PANNINI STAND GUY? Is this one of those moments that’s going to spring to mind later when they ask Kellan if there were any signs?

It is what it is. I’m just living my truth.

Happily, after two hours [I know. I know.] of sitting in an eerily empty airport listening to elevator music and attempting to muddle through A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, I discovered that my Southwest flight had only sixteen passengers on a plane that could have held 147.

And everybody said amen. Of course, it did make the “A group boarding status” that I’d been so proud of slightly less noteworthy, but in the spirit of not sharing my armrest I got over it.

Let’s go back to my plane read. Can we talk about A Casual Vacancy for a hot second? I ordered it because my love for the Harry Potter series knows no bounds. If a wizard  appeared at my front door and offered me half a chance to slip through track 9 and ¾ and dash off to Hogwarts on the condition that I left immediately, Kellan wouldn’t find so much as a note on the kitchen counter when he got home from work that night. [Sorry, honey.] Every word of every book is compelling and enchanting and before you know what’s happened, the line between real and magic is impossibly blurred and Harry and the gang leap to life off of hastily turned pages. I may have cried into my dirty pillow in Africa when I finished the last book.

Of course, that may have had something to do with the suddenly unavoidable, brutal realization that I was living in Africa and not at Hogwarts, as I’d been blissfully pretending.

I understood that A Casual Vacancy wouldn’t be Harry Potter, but if J.K. Rowling had published a book of Essays on the Non Nutritionally Redeeming Nature of Pancakes, I would have paid cash money for it without batting an eye. She’s brilliant. Sadly, I wasn’t prepared for the…well, uncomfortably adult nature of her latest number. I find that reading it leaves me feeling as though I’d just raided the aforementioned Dunkin doughnuts case and left no doughnut hole behind. The language, [sweet Harry Potter never once said the F word!], the violent sex, the drug use, the abuse…I find myself grimacing and skipping pages at a time, hoping against hope that Gandalf will show up and redeem the whole, sorry mess. [Thus far it’s not looking promising.] Against human reason, I soldier on, miserably slogging through each forced, broken sentence because I need some semblance of closure with the whole unfortunate ordeal.

Also, it’s a hardback.

Have any of you read it? I could really use a support group right about now…

Happy Friday, friends!

–Editors note: YES, I am aware that Gandalf never made an appearance in Harry Potter. :) Though if he had, He-who-shall-not-be-named wouldn’t have even posed a threat…


  1. Benjamen Ober says:

    I just read part of your review of J.K. Rowling aloud to my Linguistic Theory class. They asked why I was laughing out loud before class. We all appreciated the Gandalf joke.

  2. Laura Gent says:

    Read the book for the exact same reasons…and felt the exact same way. Finished it, but it never quite redeemed itself. Going to just go back and reread the HP series and live in that fantasy world. Much more fun. Thanks for the laugh! :)

    • Laura, I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I’m so disappointed–but I think you’ve got the right idea. It’s best to just live in the past and re-read HP. ;) Please let me know if you discover any other books that are worth reading–I seem to be rather miserable at finding them on my own! :)

  3. I read a LOT of books, but I read the reviews on the internet for this one and realized it would be no Harry Potter. Decided not to buy it, because other readers seemed to be saying the same thing as you. :-)

    • p.s. One really good book I read lately is called “Remarkable Creatures,” by Tracy Chevalier (same author who wrote “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”) I read the whole thing, only to find out at the end that it is loosely based on REAL historical women! Spectacular read!

    • It’s so unfortunate! Thanks for the book recommendation though. :) I’m always dying for a really good book!

  4. Gail Casurella says:


    I, too, am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and read all the books at least three times through the years. So, like you, I grabbed J.K. Rowling’s “adult” book as soon as it came out and was so disappointed. Not only were the themes un-Harry-like, but I found the story overall to be well, dull! I guess I kept waiting for a magical moment that just never came. Hopefully J.K. will go back to what she clearly does better than anyone. We all need a little more magic in our lives.

    • I love that–“we all need a little more magic in our lives”. So true! :) Please do let me know if you find a great book–I’d love some recommendations. I’m just so bummed about this one–it could have been great!

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