Anyway, I met iamstarmom and her daughter and a couple other fans for dinner first and we talked about the books and the questions we submitted. Then I ran off to meet my cousin, who was already waiting in line, and we got in and got seats pretty quickly. They had a PowerPoint presentation thing looping with the seven book covers and music from the movies and "Scholastic Presents the J. K. Rowling Open Book Tour" etc. Some news guy (Keith Olberman?) came out and delivered some not-particularly-memorable blurb.
And then, Jo walked on stage. They were still playing the movie music and she got a loooong standing ovation and at that point I admit I got a little choked up. We finally sat down and she said she was going to indulge herself by reading something from the middle of the book, since she was sure we'd all finished it, unlike the school kids that were at all the earlier readings. She read the passage where Ron and Harry return to the tent after Ron's destroyed the locket Horcrux; I'd seen a lot of her other readings on YouTube and other sites, and I have to say this one was particularly inspired, especially her shrill furious!Hermione.
After the reading came the Q&A. I scribbled notes as fast as I could, but I'm sure there are complete transcripts already out somewhere, so I'm not going to summarize here. If anyone really wants to know about a particular question, I'll dig out the old notebook and tell you what I jotted down at the time.
The Dumbledore thing took me completely by surprise, though I've since decided it doesn't change my opinion of Dumbledore much at all. There were a few moments of stunned silence, followed by some pretty loud applause, though I noticed a smattering of people in the audience who did not clap that time. I can't help wondering if some of the applause was just because people felt the need to react somehow and there really aren't many options for a crowd of 2,000. My cousin commented later in the car that she could have told us we were all morons and we still would've clapped, and he may have had half a point there. But I totally support Jo and Dumbledore, so I am glad this announcement got an enthusiastic response anyway.
Part way through the Q&A I noticed the brick wall of books, at least three deep and a dozen high, stacked up in front of the stage. The DH covers kind of blended in with the stage and I was sitting pretty far back, so I hadn't noticed before. Jo left to limber up her wrist, while some other guy came out and explained how the book signing would work: they'd call us by row, we'd file past Jo and get our book, no personalizations and no telling the author our life story.
I got kinda worried when I saw how fast they were actually pushing people through that line. They had a Scholastic rep who literally put her hand on everyone's shoulder and hustled them past if they tried to pause to talk to Jo. We could see the people getting books signed on the big screen, and Jo was hugging and high-fiving them whenever she could, and that was cool. They also played some of her older readings, starting with GoF, to keep us entertained while we waited.
I'd really wanted to ask Jo a question or two, so during the hour and a half I was waiting, I tried to hatch a scheme whereby I went last to get my book signed on purpose, in the hopes that they'd be willing to give me, like, 30 seconds with her if there weren't 1,000 other people still waiting to get their books signed. But, sadly, it was a no go. The girl who was calling the rows up gave me a "nice try, missy" smile and said I had to go when it was my turn. After a few wild thoughts of ducking out and hiding in the bathrooms for a while, I gave up and decided to make the best of it.
My really big question had to do with this kind of epiphany I had last year that the magic in the HP books was allegorically based on a certain class of rare neurophysiological phenomenon. I'd read every last interview on Accio Quote! and only found one direct reference to it (from eight years ago), and maybe one or two slightly more circuitous references. I figured if I asked and she had no idea what I was talking about, then I'd completely misinterpreted the significance of that quote. Otherwise, well ... it was just very important for me, personally, to know.
So I got to the front of the line, presented my ticket, walked over to Jo, and without preamble said, "In an October 1999 interview you said that magic was just a metaphor for this other word of possibilities, beyond convention, that the mind can reach. Could you please confirm that for me?"
She'd turned to hand a signed book to one of the Scholastic helper-people, and for a split second I thought she hadn't heard or hadn't understood me. Then she turned back, looked me in the eye, nodded emphatically, and said, "I would definitely confirm that."
And then I was pushed along by the handlers and given a signed and stickered copy of the book and sent on my way, with that one moment and those five words seared into my brain for the rest of my life, I'm sure.
And that's the story of the day I met J. K. Rowling. The End.