Posts Tagged ‘Uncle Stevie’

And so there is a snow storm around. Supposed to be a good ol’ fashioned nor’easter by tomorrow. I hate driving in snow, but sitting at home and binging tv or playing games or reading a book are great. I’ll be making potato soup tomorrow, and that will be yummy on a snowy day. The boys are virtual tomorrow anyway, as is my work, so no snow day. But still a quiet day in a sense. The world is quieter with snow falling.

I’ll read “One for the Road” by Uncle Stevie tonight. It’s tradition during a snow storm. Get myself all creeped out and then fall asleep. The sound of the plows may interrupt my slumber at some point, but I’ll drift back easily enough. I drove in the snow earlier, of which I am dreadfully fearful. So adrenaline went up and I am exhausted.

But the outside looks pretty, the cats have a fun “movie” to watch through the windows, and maybe the dog will let me take him out. He’s scared of walking in the snow. Only while it’s falling (and “attacking” him). When it’s done falling, he loves romping through it.

Enjoy the quiet this evening.

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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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Monsters are real. And ghosts are too. They live inside us. And sometimes they win. ~Uncle Stevie

That’s why horror movies, crime procedurals, and news channels thrive. Uncle Stevie also once said that our fascination with death, with mortality, is why we slow down to look at the accident.

But the scarier aspects in life are the monsters and ghosts that live inside us. Perhaps we see ourselves in the shows and movies…in the bad guys, in the evil ones, in the ones that broke because the monsters and ghosts won.

What keeps the majority of us from losing? What enables us to not break? Faith, family, friends. I suppose the ones who lose to the monsters and ghosts don’t have that.

Where do the monsters and ghosts come from? Skeletons in family closets that linger through the generations. Relatives that hide secrets because they don’t want to deal with it or they don’t know how to handle it.

With our sons, we tell them the family history. It’s not always pretty, but we aren’t scared of monsters and ghosts. This has surprised some over the years, but we don’t want to burden them. If we’ve sorted through the closets, cleared away the cobwebs, there’s no need to make them deal with that same shit. Once it’s dealt with, it’s history so it is time to move on.

It took me a long time to beat some of my monsters and ghosts. There are new ones I’m wrestling with now. But with faith, family, and friends I am doing it.

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Adopted #3 Son asked me recently why I don’t write a book or a story. I don’t think he intended it as an explicit challenge, but perhaps an ulterior motive did exist to kick me in the ass to do something more productive with my copious free time. I chewed it over for a couple of days. I write this blog…when time and life permits. And isn’t that bullshit. If I wanted to, I would find the time every day to write a new post. Am I such a slacker? Yep. And here I am, owning up to it.

Still, writing a book, a story. Could I do it? Don’t know. But this evening I started a free write to try it. It was fun. I don’t know if I could sustain the topic I wrote about this evening, but I have to start somewhere and see how it goes. Here’s the problem…and this is often the problem with writing a post. I feel an unbelievable amount of pressure to not have errors since I run a writing lab. So this evening, I gave myself permission to do what I tell the students to do-WRITE. Don’t edit, revise, etc. Just WRITE. And I had fun writing. We’ll see where it goes. We’ll see if I can be as dedicated as Uncle Stevie and write every day.

But will I be letting Tom Hanks down? In Nothing in Common, he says to the students on the tour…”I love advertising. It’s what I do. I don’t have the Great American Novel hidden in my desk drawer….” Or am I more like Kevin Bacon in She’s Having a Baby…in advertising but really writing a book? I suppose since I run a writing lab, writing in my spare time isn’t wrong. It’s not a cheat. It is what I do.

Perhaps, just perhaps, that’s what I’ve been looking for. The missing thing. Maybe I’m a writer who forgot to write? This will be fun to watch. And write about. And I’m not even going to proofread this post. I’m just gonna let it stand. I simply wrote.

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Night owls need to work in the middle of the night every now and then just to get their mojo back.  At least, that is what works for me.  I found a Christopher Guest movie on demand, A Mighty Wind, and, in two hours, I knocked out a ton of work that has been put on the back burner over and over at work.  Not one of these tasks was overly difficult but needed just a bit of brain power and concentration to accomplish.  But to find five minutes at work when I’m not interrupted is the challenge.

Keep in mind, the interruptions at work are my favorite part of the job.  Interruptions at my job are students who come into my office seeking help, a safe space to decompress, or candy.  Interruptions are tutors who want advice on what to do with their lives.  Interruptions are colleagues who need to share an “aha” moment or vent so they can put on a “Pop” face and finish the day.  The interruptions are the human connection of my job and they are my favorite parts.  They beat the pants off of reports, statistical analysis, or reading through dozens of emails.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty good at those parts too, but my favorite parts of the job are the students.

This semester my approach is it’ll happen when it does and keep it fun.  Mostly this approach is because of the weather.  No one wants to walk around campus in the cold and snow so we’re off to a slow start.  As I walk around campus, I am reminded of “Strawberry Spring”, a lovely short story from Uncle Stevie.  I do not want the plot from this story to happen on my campus, but the snow reminds me of it.  The campus does have a beautiful, creepy feel to it at the moment.

Speaking of Uncle Stevie, I am working on creating a training for my pirates (the writing tutors) from his book On Writing.  We’ve started Twitter and Instagram accounts and the ball will start rolling on those.  We’ll also be starting a blog.  These will be primarily megalomaniacal in nature because getting people to follow you is near impossible, but it’s fun and a good experience for when the tutors get into the “REAL” world.

It’ll happen when it does and keep it fun.  Kind of like my blog.

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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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Again…it wasn’t lunch.  This was more like ten minutes though.  When Hubby heard Adrienne Barbeau was going to be at Chiller Fest, he debated skipping his chiropractor conference so he could meet her.  My sons also thought it was cool that I would be meeting her.  They think she’s great in Creepshow.  They love when Hal Holbrook’s character gives her character what she deserves!

Ms. Barbeau was very nice.  While waiting in line, I selected a Creepshow poster with a boy reading the comic book (so many things in our lives go back to Uncle Stevie, don’t they?).

Cover for the Creepshow comic book adaptation.

It made me think of my sons (Creepshow was the first Stephen King book they were allowed to read).  I shared with her how the whole family enjoys her work and she asked who she should address the autograph to.  I told her to the S family.  She then asked, the S family?  Are you related to Richard S?  I said yes, and asked which one since there are three or so that live in the state.  I asked what line of work he was in to narrow the choices.  She wasn’t sure what he did, but he was her neighbor until his recent death.  She said he was a very nice man.  Then, in a bit of a role reversal, she said it was very nice to meet me!

As I researched which Richard she may have been referring to I discovered to my sadness that it was the Richard I was thinking about.  He was a very nice man.  I had the pleasure of meeting him via telephone when he shared some information for the family association’s newsletter.  He was a very impressive player in the newspaper business.  He also helped innovate newspaper recycling.  He told me over the phone in one of our conversations how he kept testing the process in his kitchen, using his blender.  He was a friendly man and our conversations marked one of the highlights of my term as secretary.

I wish I could see Adrienne again to thank her for alerting me to the loss of this dear man.  In discovering that I was a relative of Richard’s, she presumed I was a nice person.  I can only try to be as nice as this man was.  He was proud of his family’s place in history and worked to contribute to our country and society.  From what I know of him, he was a good family man.  Having only retired two years ago at the age of 97, he clearly loved the news.  But he seemed to have balanced it with family and friends.

It was fun to share with Adrienne about my husband’s crush on her.  And she seemed to understand when I told her my sons love it when she gets thrown under the stairs in Creepshow.  If we had met in a different way, I think she and I could sit at a diner for quite a while chatting about life and family and exploring this world.  She was even game enough for a cutesy pose for Hubby.  It was truly a pleasure to meet Adrienne Barbeau.

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The winds picked up this evening.  The nor’easter winds with their eerie, haunting howls.  The shrieks have been wrapping around the house all night.  The tempests have brought the ghosts in with them.  I’ve heard Mom’s door opening and closing.  Brigs snored at the bottom of the stairs.  A big one that even rattled his collar.  Creepiness is filling my home and I love every minute of it.

October is a magical month.  The leaves die and float to the ground revealing the skeletal arms of the trees.  Soon a walk around the block will echo with the crunch and crackle of the leaves under foot.  The night creeps in earlier and the moon always seems brighter.  Scarecrows adorn the lawns and the straw arms billow from the gales, stretching out to catch a person as he walks by their perch.

Colorful mums sprout from the ground and grow fuller each day.  The color of the leaves on the grass blend with the mums.  Pumpkins and Jack ‘o lanterns burst with color in a graying world.  Ghosts stories float to children’s ears, scaring them a little bit more until they cry out for the storyteller to stop.

In a few weeks. children dressed as cowboys, princesses, and monsters get to willingly approach strangers and ask them for candy.  Witches will cackle flying on their brooms overhead.  Scary moans and laughter, rattling chains, and haunting  music will swirl around and fill the night with spooky noises.

I can remember walking Brigs during October and always being thankful that he was a large dog.  Even though I knew I was perfectly safe, the hairs would stand up on the back of my neck.  Sounds would echo down the street and seem to be surrounding us at the same time.  I could feel eyes watching us.  I was sure of it and so I stuck close to Brigs.  I knew he would protect me.  This is the first autumn without him here to bring me comfort as the nor’easter ghosts settle in for the winter again.

Oh, I love the autumn.  I love ghost stories.  I love the look of the fog and the sounds of the wind and the leaves.  I love the smell of the wood burning in fireplaces to warm the homes with glowing windows as we all settle in for the cold.  A lot of Uncle Stevie to read in the coming months.  Old tales that are good friends that help to keep one warm during the winter months.  And to help keep the ghosts at bay.  Even as the gales blow around the house.

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What a difference a day makes.  Also walking away from the problem offers such wonderful perspective.  That and a few friends commenting on fb that they know exactly how I feel.  And chocolate.  I can’t forget the chocolate.

But you know what the best thing I reflected on today was?  I ate supper with my family yet again this week.  We’ve been rocking the dinner time lately.  Doesn’t matter what the dinner is, it’s the time together.  My sons have finally gotten the swing of sharing something fun about their days.  And I’m going to admit it…write on virtual paper…we use the convenience stuff to make dinner.  Yes, there are fresh veggies (asparagus at the moment since it’s in season-though I don’t eat it).  But the main entrée was one of those skillet dinners.  If I didn’t have to work, I’d be cooking home-made stuff.  Ah, well…do the best you can with what you have where you are.  Teddy Roosevelt, not me.  I wish I could write something as pithy as that.

Perspective comes in many ways.  You just have to be open to it coming in and opening your eyes.  Be open to the other side of things and examining the issue with other eyes.  Turn it over and over.  Challenge it, question it.  Pray on it.  Focus on simplicity and grace to rise above the feeling of mediocrity.

So what am I going to be when I grow up?  I have no idea and realized today that part of the reason I feel like I’m floating and looking for my thing is that I refuse to grow up.  I still love learning and have a thirst for new experiences.  If a particular experience, idea, or goal doesn’t materialize, no biggie.  There will be another.

And until another shows itself, I have buckled down and examined what is on my plate and what I can do with it.  How I can do each project.  Why I am doing each project.  I asked myself if I still feel each one is fun.  Theater had become not fun, but when I gave it a whirl this past fall, it was a blast.  Why?  Because I was just an actor.  So I now know I’ll never be on a theater board again.  Takes the fun right out of it.

A very fun project coming up in the summer are the dino digs we’ll be going on for fossil hunting.  I think I may be more excited than the boys.  Older son still wants to find more substantial fossils than what we should find on these digs, but we’ve been talking about the fact that you need to start where you’re at and grow from each experience.  We talked about how he needs to learn how to dig and these three trips will help him do that.

I’m sewing again.  Other than Halloween costumes, I haven’t done that for a while.  It’s a costume for a friend who is going to a film-fan convention.  So far it seems to be going well.  I enjoyed making the patterns and they are working nicely.  We’re having a fitting this Saturday.

Of course, I’m in VBS prep mode.  We’re going to Babylon this year.  Oh yes, there will be a hanging garden.  I’ve been working on that for the past month.

Prayer, meditation, studying my Shakespeare and Grimm, reading some Uncle Stevie, it’s all good.  Just need to get off my arse and work out the issues in my legs.  This week’s been a less than stellar week, but it is still so much better than it had been for the past few years.

And it’s almost summer.  Now I do not do the beach thing.  There is sand at a beach and I don’t do sand.  We will go to the lake, and yes, there is sand there, but it’s not overly crowded.  There are pools we’ll go to and the boys will do a lot of swimming.  Maybe they’ll teach their mom.

I do attempt the garden thing, but have been horrible with it the past few years.  However, sons and I have already weeded and cleaned out two of them and are working on a third.  But I really need to trim the bloody holly trees.  They are a mess again.

What most of these have in common are my family.  Which reminded me that I’m not doing that bad if we’re doing all these somethings and even some days of nothings together.

Salieri, if only you had known to step away.  To reflect and take inventory.  To count your blessings.  And to not take it all so seriously.

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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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