Spirit Animal

I work in a pretty conservative organization, so I was shocked at our strategic planning offiste when my new director recommended we start off sharing our “spirit animal.”  We were to write down our choice on an index card and then pass the cards to him so he could read aloud all of our spirit animals to the group.

I was delighted with this little task, but couldn’t decide if I should take it seriously, make a joke, or be an ass about the assignment.  A variety of options passed through my mind: owl, Loch Ness monster, cat.  Then someone in the room said, “We should have picked our patronus” and I wrote down unicorn.

The mixture of animals our leadership team picked was pretty cool and diverse:  fox, penguin, Canadian goose, sea lion, otter, turtle, mouse, deer, dolphin, desert sheep, baby robin and duck-billed platypus were all in the mix.  (I said we were a conservative organization, not lacking creativity.)  I was the only mythical creature and when asked to explain why I picked a unicorn I said:

  • “Because a unicorn seems like it might wear rose colored glasses.”

I am a bit of a Pollyanna at work.  I think things are going to work out and that people are trying to do their best and in the end things will be okay.  This perspective is a bit unusual in my organization, so I wanted to pick something that conveyed that optimism.

  • “We could really use more magic at work”

Who can’t use more magic at work?  Pixie dust, Star Trek transporters, a pope who believes in climate change, and miracles all are welcome additions to my tool box.

  • “I wanted something different from everyone else.”

I am an individual.  I want to stand out and be noticed for the things that make me special and valuable.

By the end of the day I really liked this weird exercise.  We referred to our own and other’s spirit animals throughout the day.  We acknowledged the accuracy of choices and suggested modifications.  At one point my spirit animal morphed into unicorn mold.  Something about my growing and sticking to things, like mold.  So the final evolutionary step of my spirit animal is a magical sparkly rainbow mold with spiky horns.  Be careful not to step on me.

What’s your spirit animal?


As I was perusing Longreads I clicked through to “The Books” by Alexander Chee.  While reading, I was struck by a need to jump up and examine our household Harry Potter collection and all the doubles, triples and quintuples contained therein.  My husband and I read all of the books, listened to all of the books and saw all of the movies numerous times. Away to the shelves I flew to start counting.

First to my collection.  The top shelf?  All the hardbound first editions of the collection.  (Yes, I know EVERYONE has a first edition of all the books.  Amazon brought them to your door at midnight in Harry Potter cardboard for goodness sake.)  Note the books are neither in chronological, size or color order.  That’s how I roll folks.  The collection is guarded by my hippo bookend.

Shelf two contains the real collection.  Book one and two from countries around the world.  It started when I was in Italy with my husband’s aunt.  The Chamber of Secrets was out and I wanted a memento from the trip, so I purchased the Italian version.  Next my husband purchased the German version for me when he was on a work trip, and a collection was born.  There are copies from Brazil, Japan, Korea, the UK (multiple copies of the same book) and Hungary.  They are not all purchased by us, but by friends and family as they traveled.  My favorite is the Chinese copy.  It’s the one in the paper bag.  Apparently there are black market copies of that book all over China and the only way to know it is authentic is if you buy it in the bag sealed with the special tape.  At least that’s what my dear friend who bought it told me, so it authentically remains in the paper bag with the tape hanging on for dear life.

Harry Potter from around the world
Afthead’s Harry Potter Collection

Oh, that thing on the left?  It’s a slide rule.  Never know when you’ll need one.

Next, to my husband’s collection.  It’s on his most special bookcase surrounded by sports memorabilia and his favorite series: The Dark Tower, Lord of the Rings, and Calvin and Hobbes.  His books are paperback, of course, because he hates reading hardcover books.  I honestly don’t know if he waited to read each book until the paperback came out.  How could anyone have that kind of patience?

Dark Tower, Lord of the Rings, Calvin and Hobbes and Harry Potter
Mr. Afthead’s favorite series.

Finally to the archives, where dusty cassette tapes of the early audio books are stored.  Yes, you read that right, cassette tapes.  I listened to the first five books using the tape deck in my 1999 red Subaru.  It does appear that for book six I moved over to CDs.  Someday I hope that the digital audiobooks will show up somewhere on a device I support.  Jim Dale’s rendition of the series is even better than reading it in my own head.


The movies?  We have most of them too.  I loved the books more, but the movies have strong memories associated with them.  I was struggling with losing pregnancies and I remember sitting in the theater sobbing during the fourth Harry Potter movie because I was never going to have a child who would enjoy these movies with me. Our first date after our daughter was born was to see the first half of “Deathly Hallows.”  My husband and I are patiently, patiently waiting for our her to be ready for Harry Potter.  She shuns them now as “too scary” but the day will come when she sits down on my lap and we go to Hogwarts together, or we road trip and Jim Dale tells her about Quiddich, or she sits next to me and we enjoy watching the “Goblet of Fire.”  I’ll bet you anything that when she does finally read the books herself, she’ll need her own copy, because mommy and daddy will be reading right alongside her.

Final Tally:

  • Sorcerers/Philosophers Stone :: 6 copies
  • Chamber of Secrets ::  15 copies
  • Prisoner of Azkaban :: 4 copies
  • Goblet of Fire :: 4 copies
  • Order of the Phoenix :: 4 copies
  • Half-Blood Price :: 3 copies
  • Deathly Hallows :: 4 copies (if you count each movie half as one)