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Hubby and I met the awesome Tim Curry at the stage door after we saw Spamalot. Hubby loves to tell how I turned into a twelve year old girl. We got his autograph, but this was before cameras came standard in cell phones, so no picture.

Yesterday at Monster Mania 39, the boys got to meet Tim Curry. They first saw him as Pennywise, but then became fans of Tim in Clue, Psych, Monk, Scary Movie 2, and on and on. They thanked him for all of his work. They told him how since they were little, after first watching It, when they passed a sewer, they would say, “Hello, Pennywise!”

I got to tell him about meeting him at Spamalot. What was sweet was that Tim then asked me how Hubby and I liked it.

Each of my sons extended their hands to shake his hand. Tim Curry asked each their names, ages, and then chatted with them for a few moments. Older Son did his Pennywise impression for him, while Younger Son was wearing his Pennywise shirt.

Joining us in the adventure were friends who became family long ago. I enjoyed most of all watching my sons interact with someone they admire so much. And seeing how confident and comfortable they were talking with Mr. Curry. I know they will hold this memory for a long time.

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opens today. I do hope to see It in the theater. It should be exciting, although I am a die-hard Tim Curry/Pennywise devotee. Still, with the release of the new It, I have been thinking about the long dance I have had with this book. 

I think of my childhood, the good and bad parts. I’m seeing it through new eyes as I’ve been discovering truths and alternate versions of history. It’s been changing so much for me. I don’t like it, truthfully, but it is also refreshing. I should embrace the lightness it can offer me.

1986 was a difficult year for me, an awkward teenager. I didn’t feel comfortable at my high school, didn’t feel that I fit in or was liked that much. Reading It when it came out in the fall of that year helped me understand that so many people feel that way. And when like finds like, you form a group of friends, even the Losers.

And the adults, in the book and in my life at that point, couldn’t see what was happening. They couldn’t see my pain, my sadness, my illness. As I’ve been thinking on that concept, I’ve started to ask myself what do I not see in my sons’ worlds? What am I turning a blind eye to? I’m attempting to open my eyes to their perspectives, the very real struggles and challenges and rewards and fun of being a teenager.

I’ve thought a lot about Stan and what happens to him. How childhood events haunted him so much even in adulthood that he just couldn’t bear it.

I think of the power of a promise when you are younger. 

I think of balloons, floating, and how I still think that’s a waste of a noble gas. My sons’ quote Pennywise all the time, about floating, yet they’re not allowed to have helium balloons. Now there’s a mean childhood memory they’ll have to deal with.

I think of simplicity, brothers, birds, spiders, and lost innocence. I think of lost opportunities. I work through regrets of my childhood. 

Some books stay with you for a lifetime. You dance with them, you create a new poem together each time you revisit each other. I haven’t read It for over a decade. I couldn’t, not once I was the mother of two sons. But they’re teenagers now. I think it’s time I revisit It. And let It see where I am today.

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This is the day I finally finished reading 11/22/63 by Uncle Stevie.  As the very dedicated Gentle Readers will recall, I became too scared to continue reading this book when I first began reading it in the fall of 2012.  Yes, 11/22/63 sat on the floor with the pile of “in progress” books untouched for well over a year.  Uncle Stevie wove into this story tiny bits of It and this scared the crap out of me.  Also, Hubby’s family name was used on the back cover which I didn’t notice until after reading about Bev and Rich near the Barrens.  But as of today, I finished reading the remaining 700 or so pages in about 12 over hours over the span of the past three days.  As I continued reading, the red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury kept showing up and I really wanted to smack Uncle Stevie across the face.  There was also a line about a Saint Bernard being a nice dog but still shooting it if it had rabies.  I grant you that I may read far too much into these books, but I know Uncle Stevie likes to throw this things in just to make sure you’re paying attention.

The saddest part of all is that the book is over.  I’ve read it.  I wish it hadn’t ended.  Granted, I just got Doctor Sleep and will begin reading that tomorrow, but I really liked 11/22/63.  Especially that it scared the crap out of me.  And I wish it hadn’t ended.  Jake was a lovely character.  He had a lot of strength and loyalty.  I didn’t want to leave his world(s).  But eventually I came to page 842 and was left with only the “Afterword” (which is always fulfilling for a geek like me).  I left the world(s) of Jake and space time continuums, threads, butterfly effects, and lost love.  Back into good old 2014.  Sure, 2014 is only five days old, but it’s still the “good old” reality.

The idea of ghosts, echoes, and harmonies existing in the world is something I could read about forever.  Don’t misunderstand, the story is not quite a ghost story, but the idea of shadows, ghosts, lingering and leaving their imprints.  We are ghosts.  We leave our memories wherever we have been.  The walls can talk-we just forget to listen a lot of the time.  When was the last time you sat in your own home, with complete quiet?  All the televisions, computers, smart phones, and video games turned off.  Just listening to the sound of your house, with all its settling and sounds of your family’s life breathing in and out in the quiet?  There’s something about reading a book in the silence, dedicated time for reading, that helps make the book come alive even more than when you read in a place with noise to pass the time.  Think about when you read a book (paper or virtual, though I still prefer the paper kind) while waiting at the doctor’s office.  Or on your lunch break in the office, removed from your coworkers, but still able to hear the ebb and flow of an office.  That reading is different than the reading you do at home, with everything turned off so your house is quiet.  The best reading is at night in the glow of a reading lamp, with the outside filled with darkness surrounding you and hiding reality so you can delve into the book’s reality.

And when the book is about alternate realities it’s even better.  The science of 11/22/63, when Jake is speaking with Zack about the strings, is a conversation that was blessedly short and not overly scientific.  When I even briefly think about chaos theory and string theory, my mind starts to swirl and I question the world far too much.  I like my ignorance in this area, thank you very much.  The last 100 pages of the story raised my blood pressure (my doc won’t be happy about that, it’s been running high just lately) but it’ll calm itself as the vividness starts to fade.

Some stories never fade, do they?  It haunts me constantly.  I swear, when I walk Rex, I think he knows about Pennywise because he is very leery of storm drains and sewers.  Does he know that we all float down here?  I don’t think I actually need my tattered copy of Night Shift to read “One for the Road”.  It’s pretty much there in my memory whenever I want it.  “Strawberry Spring” too.  Hubby even recalled “One for the Road”.  He read it to me, over a decade ago, one night to help me fall asleep (yes, Uncle Stevie helps me sleep).  I mentioned it the other evening and he remembered it.  He remembered reading it.  It lingers with me…is she still waiting for her goodnight kiss?

11/22/63 will linger for a while, not like It has since I first read that in 1986, but for a while at least.  Then there’s Doctor Sleep.  It’s getting to harder to keep my reserved King books in reserve.  I’m curious.  I want to enter their worlds.  But the reserved ones will have to keep.  Plus, Uncle Stevie keeps on writing.  And I keep on reading.

 

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Last night younger son and I were working on the K’Nex.  We’re on step 79 of 182.  It’s a great way of teaching patience.  As we’re putting the little rods into the connectors, he was quoting :Georgie” from the movie of Stephen King’s It.  “It’s all your fault Bill.  You let It get me, Bill.  It’s all your fault.”  He does this perfectly.  He even looks like the actor who played Georgie.  We’ve got to put him in a little yellow slicker and rain hat one day.  As he keeps doing this, I’m giggling and telling him he’s a wee bit creepy.  I wanted to make sure younger son knew where this was coming from so I asked him if he knew I meant “creepy” in a good way, that he was being funny.  He said, “Yeah, Mom, I know.”  Then I asked if it bothered him that some people look at us like we’re a little bit odd.  His response?  “No, it doesn’t bother me at all. I’m a little macabre.”

Older son comes into the dining room (because everyone keeps their four foot K’Nex set-up on the dining room table).  He had been working on his comic strips.  I asked him if the “odd” moniker bothered him.  He said no and then, in the style of the Addams Family, crossed his arms and snapped twice.  I love my sons.

Tonight I decided to watch Clue.  As younger son heard the music, he started quoting Mrs. White.  “Flames, flames, on the side of my face.  Heaving breaths, heaving…flames…”  Yeah, a little bit creepy and a little bit kooky.  And that’s fine by me.

I’ve never enjoyed the pressure of conforming.  It is tiring to try to keep up with what other people think one should be like.  I don’t want to live my life trying to be someone I’m not.  I try not to judge and when others give the impression they are judging me, I just don’t have time for that either.  Hubby and I teach our sons to do what they want to do and be who they want to be (yes, lyrics from the theme song from The Addams Family movie).

Conforming is far too tiring.  Life needs to be enjoyed and you have to figure out your own standards, whether that be through religion or spirituality or common sense or whatever guiding force you follow.  Then enjoy life.

And one quote from Clue, because I love this movie and it’s just so quotable…

Mustard: Is this place for you?
Wadsworth: Indeed no, sir. I’m merely a humble butler.
Mustard: What exactly do you do?
Wadsworth: I butle, sir.
Mustard: Which means what?
Wadsworth: The butler is head of the kitchen and dining room. I keep everything tidy.

P.S.  The boys loved learning that Wadsworth, aka Tim Curry, also played Pennywise.

 

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One of my favorite parts of the full body of work by Uncle Stevie is his ability to intertwine his stories together.  If you read Apt Pupil, the Nazi’s accountant is a fancy banker named Andy Dufrense before he ended up in Shawshank.  There are the many stories that take place in Castle Rock.   A fictional town that has had its share of bad luck.  To me it’s fun because I’m in on the joke, so to speak.  I get the cross-references and it usually makes me recall another character, event, or emotional response to his writing from the past that makes me smile, or grimace as the case may be.  And as I’ve written before (I think), Uncle Stevie’s books help me to sleep.  I feel comforted knowing my lot in life is not as bad as the characters.  It soothes me.  Gives me perspective.

I got 11/22/63 for Christmas.  Big bulking book from dear Stephen King.  I opted not to put this one into the reserves.  My reserves are select titles by Uncle Stevie that are unread for the day when the man finally does stop putting pen to paper.  I want to still have a “new” King book to read.  But for whatever reason 11/22/63 made it into the reading pile.  It’s not a very deep pile as I am realistic about how much time I have for reading.

The past few Sundays I have taken the book with me and read while the boys were having their swim lessons.  I’ll be honest-it took a few tries to get hooked.  What I wonder at this exact moment is did I take a while to get hooked because I was keeping an eye on my sons in the pool or because I felt the fear the book would create?

For me, there was something uneasy about the book from the get-go.  Obviously from the cover it involved changing the events of that historic day in Dallas.  I don’t know how that turns out by the way.  Because tonight I got to page 129 and was stopped dead in my tracks.  Or was it eyeballs?  Stopped dead in my eyeballs?  Even now as I checked the book to see the page number I touched it as if I would be burned.

Uncle Stevie wrote about Georgie Denbrough on page 129.  He wrote about Pennywise.  I have a picture of Tim Curry as Pennywise on my desk that one of my students gave me.  It’s of Pennywise  photoshopped into the movie for Bring It On.  You see the humor, I’m sure.  Made me laugh my ass off when I first saw it.  I enjoyed the movie version of It.  Not stellar but it doesn’t hurt to watch on a Saturday afternoon.  I love the cast, but the problem with trying to put It on film is the terror is too deep (in my humble opinion) to capture.  So while I like the movie, the book is what scared the crap out of me and continues to in so many ways.

I connected to this book instantly.  I could have joined the Losers club easily.  Probably could have been a charter member.  I held onto my faith in the belief system of childhood for a very long time.  Truth be told, I still have more of a childlike belief system than an adult one.  I love this book and hate this book.  The magic of childhood and the horror of childhood vividly live in the characters with such ease.  I see myself reflected in each of the characters.  I see myself reflected in the words typed on the many, many pages.  I have read this book several times but the most recent time I read it happened over a decade ago.  I don’t know when I will reread it.  I know I will, but I don’t know when.  Once I gave birth to my second son I knew it would be quite a long time till I could read It again.  When their childhoods are over and safely tucked away in baby books and scrapbooks, I’ll be able to read It again.  That was the plan.  I wouldn’t have to interact too closely with the horrors of It for another decade.

Then Uncle Stevie wrote about Georgie in 11/22/63.  I couldn’t even finish the sentence I was reading.  The story of It came flooding back into my mind, heart, and soul so quickly, it was, if you’ll pardon the expression, a watershed moment.  I started shaking as all the events in that book flooded my mind at one time.  I saw it coming with the first mention of the town of Derry, but thought there’s no way he could really intertwine it with any detail.  I tried to recall details, like names or places, but all I could picture were the Barrens and the standpipe.  I thought no biggie, a few passing mentions of Derry.   But I was wrong.  I couldn’t even finish the sentence.

I was sitting there on my couch, shaking, crying, trying to catch my breath because Uncle Stevie knocked the wind out of me.  After a few minutes, I walked down the hall, turned on the light with the pretty frosted glass dome, and with a sense of fear and doom went in to check on my sons.  Both sleeping soundly in the shark bedroom, both audibly breathing that deep and constant breathing of a sleep not filled with worry or fear.  I still put my hand on each boy’s chest to feel the steady rise and fall of his lungs filling with and emptying of air.

How does this man do it?  How does he summon up fear so readily in so many people?  I don’t know if I’ll sleep tonight.  I’m not being facetious.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to fall asleep.  Each time I close my eyes, I see It.  In all of its forms.  I see Georgie, Bill, and Bev.  The pharmacist-ooh, maybe that’s why I don’t care for pharmacists. Oh, gentle reader, if I could convey how frightened this man made me this evening I too would make my living putting pen to paper.

I want to know how the book ends-please don’t be an ass and write it in a comment.  I will finish 11/22/63.  But it will have to wait until it’s not dark.  And when I can hear my boys playing the whole time.  I don’t even want to touch the book to put it back in the Stephen King bookshelves.  Yes, he has his own private bookshelves in my house.

Georgie and his paper boat.  The rain.  The sewer.  We all float down here.  I didn’t know until this evening how deeply It had worked it’s way into my being.  I love that about books, a story’s ability to infiltrate your memory and linger with you the rest of your life.  The stories pop up into your daily existence usually when you least expect it, as those types of things are wont to do.  As I probably wrote before, to paraphrase Uncle Stevie from an old interview (or foreword or afterword), everyone has a filter in their brain that sorts through each day’s events.  Certain things fall through and others are too big to fit through the holes of the sieve.  The scary stuff stays in his brain so that’s what he writes about in his stories.  And I love to read the scary stuff so it’s been a long relationship for the two of us.  I just couldn’t have guessed how large It was to allow it to linger so closely to my retrievable memory.  To be able to be pulled forth in a violent manner after reading only a few sentences describing some key events in the history of Derry.

I need to know what happens next.  But during the day.  With the sun shining.  Happily I have some vacation time this week into next.  Maybe one of the days will be sunny.  I can hole up in my room, with the covers wrapped around me, and read where the storyteller wants to take me.

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The boys and I recently read Creepshow, the old school horror comic book by Stephen King.  It was a key part of my quest for the boys to rediscover and embrace fiction.  Find literature the boys would enjoy and connect to and they will read-Poe, Grimm, Beowolf, and Creepshow.  Tonight we decided to have a Saturday night movie night.  Oldest son asked if I had the movie of Creepshow.  Yes…and after solemn promises not to use any of the curse words they might hear, I told them that they could watch the movie.

We set up the shark tent in the living room and the boys camped out with popcorn.

I remember what a thrill it was to be allowed to stay up late on a weekend and watch something “grown-up”.  The stories in the comic book and in the film are more horror than slasher.  You don’t really see a lot of blood, there isn’t much of it.  The most is in “The Crate” and “Father’s Day”, but since it’s done in comic book style it’s not overly horrifying.  The boys have not jumped yet though I did in one of the stories!  I love being scared.  It seems that my sons may enjoy being scared too.

Oldest son said people think movies are better because you can feel the action coming.  Well, sort of.  You don’t have to imagine it for yourself.  That’s why I love books.  My mind makes up scarier special effects.

The movie has classic horror elements.  Not a lot of dialogue (comic book) but a lot of visuals (comic book).  Tons of wonderful music, sound effects, and some great make-up.  Lots of great psychological horror.  Much of it may go over the boys’ heads, but it will help lay the foundation.  The cockroaches are getting under the boys’ skin.  Hee hee, they may have the creepie-crawlies for the evening.  Then again it’s called Creepshow.

Tonight was a fun, memorable night.  My sons have been introduced to Uncle Stevie.  We even briefly discussed It and Pennywise.  Oldest son asked if we could watch the one with Pennywise.  Soon, I said.  Soon.

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I don’t know how it happened.  I do know when it happened.  This is the summer of my discontent.  My sons have taken the first step to independence and I have become chopped liver.  Their world was parent-centric.  Now it’s play-outside-all-day-and-what-do-you-mean-I-have-to-come-in-centric.

Yes, I’m happy for them.  Yes, it’s means they’re growing up just like we want them to, with independence and confidence.  Yes, it means so many wonderful things.

But, first I’m going to have myself a bit of a pity party.

Where are my babies?

Okay, pity party’s over.  What an exciting time.  Yeah, yeah, for them, but I mean for me and my hubby.  We could pick up our hobbies again.  Heck, I’ve already been cast in a show.  I’m going to rehearsal tomorrow and the boys have to come with me, instead of me going with them.  My husband and I have had actual conversations in the recent weeks.  Conversation that were uninterrupted by “Mom, he’s touching me.”  I’ve been completing whole thoughts all at once.  I’ve been working on house projects, including catching up on Hugh Laurie and House.  I’ve done, dare I write it, reading for FUN and the book was a grown-up book with no pictures.  I’m current in the grading for my summer class.

While it is hard to think that the early childhood years have almost passed, it is invigorating to know that the early work took hold.  Our sons are getting it.  No, not perfectly-we really need to work on that talking back to your mother thing-but they are problem solving, compromising, sharing, thinking of others, and having fun with their friends.  They have entered that time of their life when they have secrets that mean the world that they forget the following week.  They make secret clubs and handshakes.  They can do anything, be anything.  It’s the time of youth when everyday objects hold magical powers, the days are never long enough, and the plans they make will really happen.   This summer marks the beginning of one of the best times of their lives and, oh my sweet sons, I am so happy for you.

It’s like the summer in It when the six of them first battle It.  Okay, I don’t hope that my sons end up in the bowels of the sewers battling a monster so hideous one can only call it It, but this is like that summer.  The summer of innocence when a child can still believe in monsters and the tooth fairy.  This won’t be their only summer like this, they’ll have four or five more, but this is the first one for them.  One of the boys they play with (an older boy, he’s 11) is in his last summer of innocence.  You can see it changing for him.  Some days he can completely suspend disbelief, other days he struggles and usually goes home.  The summers of suspension of disbelief.  They’re awesome.

My job now is to let them have their grand adventures.  To let them believe.  To quickly bandage their scrapes so they can back out there.  To hug them when their feelings are hurt and they’re never going to talk to so-and-so again (at least till they’re back outside talking to so-and-so again).  I’ve got to say, it hurts just a wee bit to let them have the space and time away from the “safety” of home.  But only until one of them runs in to get a toy, and pauses to come to me, wrap his arms around me, and say, “I love you, Mom.”  Then the hurt is not so bad.

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