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Posts Tagged ‘Uncle Stevie’

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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