There is too much. Too much going on, too much going wrong, too much to do, you know the drill. I haven’t blogged in a billion years, but every time I even think of blogging, I’m like, “Oh, hell, what am I supposed to talk about? Nazis? Racism? DACA? The fact that the earth is trying desperately to shake us all off? My daily routine?

Everything that seems important to talk about isn’t something I feel qualified to discuss. At all. There ain’t nothing this middle-aged white lady from the suburbs can say about racism that would help or inform or even be meaningful. Same with DACA. Or anything happening politically. I know enough to have my own opinion, but not nearly enough to inform or persuade others. So I’ll shut up. But then, in the midst of the way our country is burning (literally & figuratively), it feels stupid as hell to talk about the minutiae of my boring life. I mean, American citizens are fighting & dying. Who gives a ripe fig about what I’m making for dinner?

I don’t know. I’m so exhausted lately, too. I’m not sure if it’s physical problems or just the stress of living in the world right now, but I can sleep all. the. time. No exaggeration. I went and got all my physical tests, but I have to get back & get the results. I honestly don’t know if I’d rather find out there’s something actually wrong with me that will explain my fatigue or not.

His teacher & I agree – Henry has begun puberty. Remember how I used to talk about how Henry is so stubborn & dictatorial? I was a fool. He ended the summer and began the year by taking his previous frustrating behavior, tying it to a rocket, and launching it toward the sun. It is bigger, louder, and on fire. His hitting, kicking, refusal to do things, and basic tantrum stuff is off the charts. His teacher suggested that he’s probably beginning puberty, which, while I knew it was going to happen, made my brain shut down for a few minutes. Henry in puberty? Oh no. I don’t even want to THINK about what that’s going to mean. He’s already terribly physically inappropriate, grabbing people, pulling on their clothes, burying his face in bodies, hugging too long and too … um…. violently. No thank you. I’ll pass on this, if you don’t mind.

I hate to think about it. Isn’t there a pill or a powder I can put in his yogurt to just skip this stage? It’s one thing for a child who can understand what’s happening or for a child who you can talk to and explain things to them, but Henry is just not that child. Can’t he just stay, like, 10? Grrrrph.

My photography business is growing & that’s cool. I am now the photographer for 3 different theatre groups, which is probably close to the limit of what I should book for that. Otherwise, tech weeks start overlapping and it becomes problematic to shoot that ever-important FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL. But I’m also getting more one-time shoots as well, which I’m loving.

Other thoughts….okay.

Weather channels: can you please stop your EXTREMEWEATHERROCKERS from standing out in the midst of the eyewall of the horrible storm? I’m literally waiting, jaw clenched & nails digging into my arms, for every one of them to get scooped up by the 140 mph wind and thrown into a building or into the storm surge that’s RIGHT BEHIND THEM, or just off into the ocean where we will get to watch them die, live, on TV. I know you don’t want them in front of glass that can shatter and kill them all, either, but it’s so stressful to wonder if this is the time the earth actually murders them for their careless behavior.

I’ve never lived in an area that has to worry about hurricanes. I have no idea what goes into the process of preparing or determining whether to stay or go or “riding the storm out” or any of it. But here’s what I do know. JUDGING OTHER PEOPLE ABOUT THEIR DECISION WHEN YOU AREN’T THERE AND DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING OR WHAT THEY’RE FACING IS BEING AN ASSHOLE. I saw way too much of this during Harvey and now with Irma. Yes, it’s optimal for everyone to have the ability to evacuate for safer territory. Not everyone has that option. Not everyone has the ability to leave. Whether it’s being literally immobile or not have the money or means to drive away or being homeless or whatever. Yes, there are buses and shelters and emergency evacuation services. What if you’re stuck in bed at home and can’t get on a bus? What if you’re homeless and have been in shelters before where really bad things have happened to you and you’re not setting foot in one again? What if the storm turns at the last minute and you THOUGHT you were safe, but now you’re not and it’s literally too late to get in the car and go anywhere? What if you don’t have any family or friends to ask for help? For as many people are there are, there are that many different situations. If you are able to leave, that’s wonderful. If you’re able to help others leave, that’s even better. If you are somewhere else in the country watching it on TV and you think you know better? SHUT UP. When you’re IN IT and you’re following coverage and see that your only way out of there is blocked and at a standstill and the gas stations are running out of gas and you have to decide whether to try to stay and hunker down or attempt an escape and have the possibility of being stranded in your car on a blocked highway while the hurricane hits you? You make the best decision you can in that moment. Is it always optimal? No. Is it even always the best decision you could have made? Probably not. But if you’re not making the decision for yourself, shut up forever.

One last thing. If you have the pleasure of visiting one of our national parks or a gorgeous huge forest or a national landmark or something like that. DON’T BE A DICK. Put your damn fireworks away. Don’t smoke. Stop screwing around with the habitat or the markers or the geysers or throwing shit into a gorge. Stop acting like a complete shitgibbon. It’s not there for you to carve your damn name into or jump around like an asshole or leap over a barrier meant to protect YOU and the natural area & damaging things. Walk through, take pictures, and go the hell home. And if you have to be TOLD that you can’t have FIRE in an area experiencing DROUGHT, STAY THE F&$K HOME. The rest of us are sick to death of you ruining everything for everyone else, killing animals and people, destroying habitats and thousands of acres of woodlands, and causing hell on earth. If your asshattery makes hundreds of firemen & helicopters & police have to go into STATE EMERGENCY mode, evacuates homes & neighborhoods, and causes millions of $$ of damage, you shouldn’t be allowed out in the world anymore. Behave like a human being and STOP BEING A DICK.

Thanks. Have a great day.

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I’m pissed. There will be swears. If that is problematic for you, may I recommend returning back from whence you came.

In the past 2-3 weeks, the insanity that has taken over our country has been….breathtaking. Jaw-dropping. Mind-numbing. Overwhelming. I mean, we all knew Trump was an idiot, Pence is insane, and Bannon’s a racist dumpster fire. And we knew the GOP in Congress are bullies who just vote for things because that’s the party line. But I thought….stupidly, I know, but I thought that when it came to the unqualified imbecile nominated for Secretary of Education, they could all see just how dangerous she would be. The fact that our CHILDREN deserve someone who actually knows ANYTHING about education to oversee EDUCATION would be too blinding to ignore.

I’m really damn naive. I am floored & flabbergasted. I am deflated & pissed as hell. I’m terrified & want to beat the hell out of someone.

I don’t ever want to hear again how we all need to stand up and speak out and we can make a difference and they have to listen to us and blah blah blee blee blecccch. BULLSHIT. They don’t give a ripe shit about any of us. This PERSON paid millions of dollars and BOUGHT herself a cabinet seat. And they LET HER. We all know who she “donated” to and how much. We’ve called those Senators on their BRIBES and they don’t care. They sit in their $2000 suits and their super-expensive shoes while interns OPEN THE BLOODY CHAMBER DOORS FOR THEM because they’re apparently too important to work hinges. They stride through those doors like kings, swooping & sweeping in, knowing full well they’re going to ruin the lives of people every day and they don’t give a rat’s ass. Because they’ve got theirs and the rest of us can go hang.

A good education should be a GIVEN. For every child. Whether you live in a rural area with only one school or in a major city with dozens of them. Whether you’re the president or a dock worker. Whether you’re white or a person of color. Vouchers are ridiculous. Sure, they’re great if you live somewhere that’s rife with schools and you have something to choose from when your public school is inadequate (because they don’t have the resources the private schools do), but what if there isn’t an alternative where you live? What if, even with vouchers, you can’t afford that school? What if you don’t want your children attending a religious school because you aren’t that religion and you don’t want that indoctrinated in your child? What if you live in the middle of nowhere and your kid is already bused 45 minutes away to go to the only school that serves your county? WHAT IF YOU HAVE A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS WHO CANNOT ATTEND “Sister Friends of Money Street Charter School” because they can’t or won’t take your kid? And don’t tell me that doesn’t happen, because it HAPPENED TO US. And we only had a child with Asperger’s. There isn’t a “choice” for my Henry. He can’t go to a Montessori school or a Christian school or a Lutheran school or a Jewish school or your special “Super Flush with Cash White Upperclass Friends” school that you have to pay $10000 per year to get into – and then only if you know somebody.

My son gets his education in a Life Skills classroom in a public school. BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THOSE TEACHERS ARE. The teachers in these other school don’t know what to do with life skills kids. They don’t want to teach life skills kids. Kids who are teenagers and need their diapers changed? Kids you have to feed because they can’t use their hands? Kids who can’t sit up on their own? Kids who have seizures? Kids for whom excellent progress is whether they’ve cut down their hitting/kicking/scratching from every 4 minutes to every 10 minutes? They couldn’t HANDLE that. But those kids deserve an education, don’t they?

Not according to these monsters. See, I remember what it was like when I was a kid. Before mainstreaming. When every kid with special needs (Down Syndrome, autism, behavior disorders, encephalopathy, aphasia/dysphagia, cerebral palsy, fragile X, seizure disorders – all of it) was placed in a special school. The only special education classes in the mainstream schools were ones that taught the “slow learners.” They were mostly typical kids, but they couldn’t keep up with the regular classes. All these other kids? Were in their own building. We never saw them. We never interacted with them. Therefore….can you make the leap?

Therefore, none of us knew anything about them. We didn’t know about them as people, we didn’t know about their diagnoses, we didn’t know anything except “they’re different, that’s scary.” So we made fun of them, we steered clear of them, we stared at them. It wasn’t until I was in college and got a summer job working at this school in our town that I learned anything.

Now jump forward to today. Today, Henry and kids like him are in the mainstream school with their peers. If they can participate in their peers’ classrooms, they’re mainstreamed. If they can’t, they’re placed in special classrooms within the school and efforts are made to include them with the neurotypical students, like in blended PE classes. They’re also involved with Best Buddies programs where they get special time to connect and get to know their peers and, JUST AS IMPORTANTLY, the peers get to know them. They get to realize they’re not weird or scary or anything except people. My son consistently has neurotypical peers saying hi to him, stopping to talk to him, greeting him when he arrives in the morning. They fight to be paired with him in PE. They aren’t scared or weirded out at all.

As I discussed in my previous post, we CAN’T leave this issue to the states. We cannot abandon the IDEA and trust that each state will do everything to meet these students’ needs. BECAUSE THEY DON’T & THEY WON’T.

Let’s make it perfectly clear. What we were shown today – in blinding neon colors and 3D – is that students matter. Wait…..no. It’s that students who meet these criteria matter:

  • White
  • Rich
  • Christian

I think that’s it. If you’re poor? We don’t care. If you’re a person of color? Tough luck. If you aren’t interested in having Jesus in your school? So sad. The only thing our legislators (and administration) care about is if you have money/power and if you’re white. And the religion thing is debatable. Because if you’re a poor Christian who can’t get to a charter school? Ooops. That’s too bad. You need to be a rich Christian who has money to throw at their issues. They aren’t listening to the black churches in Atlanta or Memphis or Detroit. They don’t care about all the Hispanic people who attend Catholic mass every week. They SURE don’t care about those poor white people in the Appalachians attending their Baptist or charismatic churches.

Rich. White. Christian. You gotta be all three. You gotta be Betsy DeVos who threw around hundred of millions of dollars – “donating” it to these Republican senators – and who clearly stated that she expects a “return on her investment.” A woman with a whole lotta money, but no ability to do this job. Just ask Michigan.

I’m disgusted. The fact that these legislators are so blatantly following the money is revolting. When did we stop caring about others AT ALL? When did we become so fucking horrible? When did the wants of corporations become all that matters? I know, I know. It’s been that way for a long while. I guess I thought when it’s THIS horrifyingly obvious, they might try to hide it a little better. But every single one of these assholes will be held accountable. Some of them are up for reelection next year. I know they’ll never know what it’s like to be poor or of color or struggling or just trying to keep their heads above water. But, damn it, they work for US. We have to fire them. We have to. We cannot continue like this. I’m so scared of what’s going to happen to my kid. And all the other kids I know like Henry.

To all of you who voted for her (and who will vote for Sessions and the other monstrous nominees), shame on you. I wish on you what happened to Cersai on Game of Thrones. You need to walk naked through the Washington Mall letting us all spit on you and shout “SHAME.” You pledged to uphold the Constitution and represent your constituents. You have done NEITHER. All I have left to say is you should be ashamed of yourselves. Oh, and YOU SUCK FOREVER.

 

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As you know, there is this person who has been nominated for the position of Secretary of Education in #45’s cabinet. As you may also know, she is highly unqualified to even be considered for this position and is only being nominated because she’s rich as hell and has bought herself this position.

We are, right this minute, looking down the barrel of a loaded gun that is pointed directly at every single one of our children. For, in Ms. DeVos’ eyes, if your child is poor or non-white or has a disability or any number of other markers that mean “not rich & filled with privilege,” she doesn’t care.

Now I don’t know exactly what it takes to be the Secretary of Education for our country. I don’t know all the ins & outs, the laws & policies that need to be studied and followed. I don’t even know all the things I don’t know – you know?

But here’s what I do know. I know that when it came to the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilites in Education Act), she was utterly clueless. She didn’t even seem to know what it means. And, in a moment of transparency that spoke VOLUMES, she said that this was a matter that the states should handle. Which tells me not only does she not KNOW what the IDEA does, she doesn’t give a ripe fig.

See, the IDEA is our country’s way to make sure that states don’t shuffle off our children with special needs. To make sure that there are guidelines and rules that MUST be followed in order to ensure that every child has the right to educational opportunities. And to make sure that these children are included with the mainstream, offered the same or similar opportunities as the mainstream, and to give them EVERY. SINGLE. POSSIBLE. SHOT. at learning, growing, achieving, and becoming a valuable member of society. To remove the IDEA and trust the states to do what’s right is INSANE. Let me tell you why.

I live in Illinois. My state ranks fourth FROM THE BOTTOM in providing services for people with disabilities. That includes children, yes, but also adults. As far as special education services, the DOE reported in 2015 that Illinois joins 31 others in the category “needs assistance (2 or more years).” Of course, that’s better than Texas & District of Columbia, who ranked “needs intervention.” But it’s interesting, since Illinois is ranked #13 in 2016’s States With the Best School Systems. How we can do well in providing mainstream education, but fall short when it comes to students with special needs is kind of baffling. But I digress. The point is that without these federal IDEA standards, how well do you think individual states will do with achieving excellence (or even satisfactory results) on their own?

But here’s the point. Ms. DeVos made it through her committee hearing. Even after senator upon senator was called until they stopped answer their phones or emptying their voice mails, even after email after email came flooding into official inboxes, even after tweet after tweet to senators fell on deaf ears – all begging our elected officials to listen to us and deny this person a post – they voted “yes” and moved her on. I, myself, spent time over several days tweeting different senators (“this one’s on the fence!!” “that one wants to hear from us!”) with a short video of my son, Henry. I shared the video, introduced him and reiterated that Ms. DeVos doesn’t care about kids like Henry. That their educational opportunities will be slashed with her in charge. I thought that, just maybe, making it a little personal might make a difference.

But it didn’t. Because these men & women WE PUT in their positions don’t give a rat’s ass about what we want. They are only concerned with the party line, the money they’re getting from PAC funds, donors, and whatever little piece of power they might get by doing what someone up higher tells them to do. They forget. THEY WORK FOR US.

So, I’m done. If there is one thing these people in Washington should know, it’s that you’d BETTER NOT MESS WITH OUR KIDS. Have you ever seen a Mama Lion or a Mama Bear or even a Mama Goose if something comes after their young? They will fight to the death. And that’s what I’m talking about right now.

Dear Ms. DeVos & (especially) the GOP members of Congress:

Be prepared. A fight is coming. We mothers will no longer stand by and let you sell away our children’s futures. I am right now, standing up and declaring this: I promise, with every cell, bone, breath, and thought in my body, that if you Ms. DeVos gets confirmed and becomes Secretary of Education, I will rally. I will engage. I will round up every last Mama Bear I can, create grassroots groups, resistance movements, and voter cells that will take action. I will, very simply, keep a record of EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU who votes “yes” for her. And with every ounce of strength I can muster, I will round up troops to make sure this is the last term you serve. Whether you are in Illinois or Louisiana or Washington or North Dakota – I will find voters in your state and I will empower them to go and start working NOW to make sure you don’t get re-elected. There is NOTHING in this country worth more than our children. If you can’t see that, woe be unto you. This country has never seen the power and strength and determination of mothers whose children are threatened. And, make no mistake, confirming this woman is a direct threat. You think things are bad? Just wait. Thousands upon thousands of mothers, angry as hell, doing the groundwork, the organizing, the fighting, the emailing, the tweeting, the legwork with the sole purpose of REMOVING YOU FROM OFFICE. This isn’t a threat. It’s a promise. It’s a vow. It’s a warning. Our new president has been wildly and ridiculously telling other foreign leaders that they are “on notice.” Well, right back atcha. YOU ARE ON NOTICE. You work for US. If you do not do what we want (and the people overwhelmingly want that woman gone), we will REMOVE YOU.

Don’t test me. Don’t test the millions of mothers out there. When it comes to our kids, we don’t fuck around. You make it harder for my Henry to obtain a quality education? Well, I’d run if I were you. And don’t look back.

 

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I suppose, as a blogger, I have an obligation to reflect on the passing of 2016, huh? Even as a blogger who’s truant and doesn’t blog nearly enough? Okay. Whatever.

Way too much loss this year. Not just celebrities, though waaaaay too many good ones left us this year. I already posted about my two roughest: David Bowie & Alan Rickman. But many others affected me a lot, too. Garry Shandling in March. Prince in April. Ali in June. Gene Wilder in August. Joseph Mascolo (Stefano from DOOL) in December. And of course, George Michael, Carrie Fisher & Debbie Reynolds a few days ago. But, my God. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Gene Wilder, & Carrie Fisher in the same year? It’s too many formative people. It hurts.

But beyond the celebrities – there have been horrifyingly painful losses for people I know as well. A friend from high school and his family lost their 15 year old daughter this year in a horrible murder/suicide. Our whole community came together for them as they dealt with the aftermath and attempted to regain their lives.

Then there’s all the social issues – Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, Syrian refugees, gun violence, women’s issues, convicted rapists getting very little punishment, ISIS and backlash against Muslim people. Hatred, racism, sexism, misogyny, violence against minorities (especially blacks), xenophobia, and just plain hate. The uprising of hate and the violence it creates has been overwhelming this year, it feels. Like a rising flood that is quickly becoming deadly.

And then there’s Trump. Cheeto Hitler, Mango Mussolini, the Bloviating Yam, the Toddler Tyrant, Huffy Wee Fucking Bampot. The reality of his election is truly an offshoot of the previous paragraph. Yes, there are those who voted for him due to some mistaken belief in his business acumen or that he would somehow care about middle and lower class Americans and would make their lives better. Who just knew that they were struggling and thought and “outsider” might improve things. But most of them, I believe truly had hatred in their hearts for the groups that Trump spent his campaign insulting & maligning. His disparaging and false remarks about so many different groups of people (and individuals) gave permission to “let it out.” To freely express hatred toward people – telling them to “go back where they came from” or using racist epithets against them. And never ONCE did Trump try to stop it. He fueled it, egged it on, and took no responsibility for unleashing it. I honestly cannot believe this man is going to be our president. That so many people okayed racism, sexism, misogyny, ableism, xenophobia, and blatant hate by looking past example after example, incident after incident and failing to call any of it a dealbreaker. There were dozens of opportunities. Mocking the disabled. “We’re gonna build a wall.” The “grab ’em by the pussy” video. Denying climate change as a Chinese plot. Becoming Putin’s best friend and basically riding shirtless on a bear with him. Telling lie after outright, provable lie and then denying he ever said it – as if we DIDN’T HAVE THE VIDEO.

But all these people ignored it. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And that’s exactly what so many did. Evil was shoved in their faces – their noses were RUBBED in it. Yet they ignored it. They were blind to it. And by ignoring it, by overlooking it, by turned a blind eye – every single one of them ENDORSED AND CONDONED it. Because evil acts and evil words and evil behavior was ignored, we now face a nation that says it’s okay to treat minorities like they don’t belong here. It’s okay to treat women like objects and then call them ugly & fat if they dare disagree with you. It’s okay to refuse to treat LGBTQ+ people like actual people and deny them rights because you think it’s icky and wrong. It’s okay to reward rich, white men for being rich and white and having a penis. It’s okay to threaten people if they disagree with you. It’s okay to try to shut down the media if they report on you accurately instead of talking about how awesome you are. It’s okay for the LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD to spend his time on Twitter, insulting and tearing down and bullying people. It’s acceptable for our country’s president to side with Russia’s leader over our own citizens. It’s okay to call the citizens of the country you’re in charge of “enemies” simply because they disagree with your policies, stances, rhetoric, behavior, and inability to do the job. It’s okay to just spurt out whatever you’re thinking about whatever is happening – even if it might risk national security or relations with foreign powers. WHAT. THE. BLOODY. BLEEDING. HELL. IS. HAPPENING.

So, I’m unhappy with Trump – perhaps you are insightful and read into my thoughts there. The past 6 months, especially, have been absolutely traumatic and hard for me to deal with in terms of these issues. It’s so visceral and emotional that I have a hard time finding words about it most of the time. I feel like Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White in Clue as I try to explain what’s going on inside of me.

So I end up letting it out in little bursts here and there on Facebook & Twitter.

It hasn’t been all bad, though. I found some pockets of happiness and excitement this year. Getting to revisit my role as the Narrator in Joseph at the Opera House – 30 years later!! – was definitely a highlight. Working past my own self-doubt and fear and finding that I can still do something I love. Gigging with the band I’m in has been a blast! I’m getting to sing all the stuff I’ve always wanted to and just rock the hell out of it. I’ll tell you – speaking up to my friend, Kathy, and telling her to keep me in mind if they needed another vocalist was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Just taking that tiny step out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there made it possible for me to start singing again and having SO. MUCH. FUN. And doing that let me share video of our band which led Joseph’s director to see it and reach out to me (actually chastisting me for not auditioning for Joseph because I thought “who wants to see this fat-assed old broad up on stage?) and then when the Narrator he’d cast couldn’t do a matinee because she had another show to do, he called me right away and asked me to step in for that performance! So one tiny risk back in October of 2015 created opportunities which allowed me to do something that I DREAMED of doing. And may lead me to step out and try auditioning for other shows in the future. (9 to 5? I’m looking at you)

This year also brought growth and improvement for both my younger sons. William still struggles at school with behavior and anger management, but he’s consistently improving. It’s slow, but it’s there. And Henry – while there still are significant and huge delays, we can see growth in him as well. We can see him becoming a teenager (AUGH.) We’re seeing him wanting to do new things and relearning how to do things with & for him that allow him to grow into new skills. He’s trying to tell jokes. He’s starting to recognize when he’s in need of a diaper change. He’s starting to feed himself at home. He’s doing small chores. They’re small things, but they’re happening.

This year hasn’t been perfect and hasn’t been an extinction event. I’ve made mistakes this year – small ones, big ones, and even devastating ones. (No, I’m not going to detail them for you, nosy parker) But I’m literally praying that nothing I’ve messed up this year can’t be recovered from. Because when it comes down to it, I’m way more blessed than I deserve. Or even often recognize. I have a great family.  I am truly blessed to have the family I do and I’m going to strive to show them all how very thankful I am all through 2017. While I often find myself whining too much, frustrated too much, and unhappy too much; I will make a concerted effort to follow my grandmother’s advice and realize that happiness is not a destination. Happiness is a CHOICE.
To Steve, Maggie, Steven, Henry, William, and my parents: you are my treasures of great value. I love you more than I can say and I thank you for forgiving me when I mess up, reminding me of what’s important, and loving me even when I’m a mess. I pray that 2017 will be the year that I grow more patience, that I’m slower to frustration, that I react with love, grace, and kindness more often than not, and that those I love will see in me a new heart that glows with the light of how very, very much I love them.

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It’s been a crapfest of a year, really. I honestly cannot find much for which to recommend 2016. So don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out, buddy.

Lately, I’ve been escaping a lot by listening to books via Audible.com. I realized I had somehow gathered like 10 credits and after listening to Max Brooks on the Nerdist podcast, I decided to listen to World War Z on audio. I liked the idea of many different narrators and it’s one of my favorite books, so I checked it out. And my only complaint was that it wasn’t long enough.

Then I started checking out some Stephen King. “The Stand,” I figured, would last a while. “Skeleton Crew” would be good. And, of course, “It.”

(Author’s Note: Boy, try finding a photo to use that represents “It” without a damn clown in it. Sheesh.)

I remember when “It” first came out. I got it almost immediately and CONSUMED it. It was fascinating to me – so honest and true. Even though I wasn’t a child in 1958, childhood in the 70s and very early 80s was similar in that there was a lot of running free, playing all day outside, imaginative exploration, and that nebulous connective thread between late childhood and early teenager that you could almost grab a hold of, but not really. So reading about the day-to-day childhood experience of Bill, Ben, Bev, Eddie, Stan, Richie, & Mike wasn’t too far away for me to understand. I devoured that book. Of course, clowns have, to my recollection, always been a source of terror for me. There was abuse in my childhood – though not nearly on the scale Bev experienced. I could never really put my finger on what it was about that story that connected so deeply with me. I didn’t just feel it – it was like I was reading a transcript from an alternate universe version of myself. It’s actually one of the few of his books that I’ve read over and over again.

When I read it for the 2nd time, I was in college. I still had the same paperback copy, but by now the binding was broken and it was starting to fall apart. It’s hard to have a paperback version of a book that big – it just doesn’t want to stay together. I had already read it – and not that long ago – but I couldn’t remember it. I remembered the general story and could give a synopsis, but there were important details I had simply forgotten. There were sections that I’d lost altogether. And I honestly couldn’t remember how the climax played out. Which was really strange to me because I’ve always been good with holding on to the books I’ve read. I can still remember the night I started getting into the climax of the book (probably the last 1/3 or so). I found myself unable to put the book down and go to sleep, even though I had class the next day. I was alone in my room, sitting in a chair in the middle of the room, reading and reading and reading – almost furiously – because I DIDN’T REMEMBER ANY OF THIS and I was not only freaked out by the book, I was kind of freaked out by that fact. Every time I’d get to certain points/details/phrases that were important and should have been memorable, that point/detail/phrase would shoot me in the gut and it was as if I was pulling out a long-forgotten memory from my own childhood that was really important and MEANT SOMETHING OMG. I’d gasp audibly as it came flooding back.

Then I’d finish the book and put it away and forget about it. I watched the AWFUL TV miniseries in 1990 that didn’t even begin to truly capture the story and while Tim Curry did an awesome job, it just became almost a joke to me because in my mind this story was almost epic in its terror and importance and affect. It was as if this story meant something more than just a good horror fiction – it held some secret or truth or something that I couldn’t identify.

I think I read it again as an adult, but I can’t remember for sure. (This is a theme.) But then I got in at Audible and have been listening to it. And the same thing has happened. I didn’t remember. Just like the characters in the book, who as adults couldn’t remember anything from their childhood until certain events triggered long-repressed memory, I couldn’t remember this story. I could have told you there’s a clown in it. Couldn’t have told you the characters’ names. Could have told you where it was set. Couldn’t have told you anything beyond a very skeletal synopsis of the story. But as I listened, I remembered. And just like the characters in the book, it came back a bit at a time, in fits & starts, and those same points/details/phrases from before still slammed into me causing audible gasps of “OMG, that MEANS something more…” as I listened.

I had forgotten about Tom. Completely. The entire storyline. From the beginning of that relationship and how it began right through the end. Had you asked me about it, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. The honest brutality of the scene when Bev gets the phone call and when he visits her friend, Kay. As I listened to those scenes, I was truly taken aback by the truthfulness of it. It made me think, “This is a perfect description and example of the fear that women live with. That someday, some man will present her with this and death and staying alive will be laid before her – and she may not be able to choose.” It swallowed me up – especially now as so many women are trying desperately to hang on to the strides that have been made and trying to get the world to understand the fear innate in the everyday of being a woman. The idea that most men say the biggest fear they have from women is being laughed at, while most women say the biggest fear they have from men is being killed.

I forgot about The Black Spot and the Kitchener Ironworks and The Ritual of Chud and the deadlights and “he thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.” That last one, as a matter of fact, I have trouble actually saying or typing because something inside me feels like it’s a spell or a summoning and something will happen if I do. I forgot about Paul Bunyan and Mrs. Kersh and the abandoned refrigerator and Patrick Hofstetter and how they got out of the sewer in 1958. It blows my mind.

But then there’s this – that I actually transcribed because as I listened to it, the tears just started running out of my eyes. Full force. Not an ugly cry, but just rivers of tears.

“Beverly made her way over to them, still holding her blouse closed. Her cheeks were bright red. The clubhouse? Bill nodded.

‘Could I have someone’s shirt?’ Beverly asked, blushing more furiously than ever. Bill glanced down at her and the blood came into his own face all in a rush. He turned his eyes away hastily, but in that instant, Ben felt a rush of knowledge and dismal jealousy. In that instant, that one bare second, Bill had become aware of her in a way that only Ben himself had been before.

Beverly threw her head up, shaking her tangled hair back behind her. She was still blushing, but her face was lovely.

‘I can’t help it that I’m a girl,’ she said. ‘Or that I’m starting to get big on top. Now can’t I please have someone’s shirt?!?’
‘Sh-sure,’ Bill said. He pulled his white t-shirt over his head. ‘H-h-here,’ he said.
‘Thank you, Bill,’ she said and for one hot, smoking moment, their eyes locked directly. Bill did not look away this time. His gaze was firm, adult.
‘W-w-w-welcome,’ he said.

‘Good luck, Big Bill,’ Ben thought, and he turned away from that gaze. It was hurting him.

Hurting him in a deeper place than any vampire or werewolf would ever be able to reach. But all the same, there was such a thing as propriety. The word he didn’t know; the concept was very clear. Looking at them while they were looking at each other that way would be as wrong as looking at her when she turned her back to pull Bill’s shirt over her head.

‘If that’s the way it is… but you’ll never love her like I do. Never.'” – Stephen King, “It”

Still guts me and leaves me bleeding. And makes me think of so many times in my own life where that realization washed over me and the hurt was like being gut shot. But…propriety.

There’s something about this for me. I don’t know if I identify so strongly because I also don’t remember a vast majority of my childhood. I don’t know if those large missing chunks make me feel more connected to this story somehow. But I know it’s really weird. There’s something almost mystical about it for me and I have never, not in 30 years, been able to put my finger on it.

I just…….wonder.

 

 

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