Old Stories Revisited, and Some Things Never Die (But Should)


When I was in high school I had a taste for bodice-ripper novels.  By the end of my freshman year I had an entire locker filled with discount cover-less $1.35 novels from the cigar store that were so graphic I had to get rid of them when school was out.  Mom would have found them in her regular treasure hunts through my stuff, and “smut” like that would have given my mother a coronary.  (I wonder if Beth’s mother ever found them, but then Beth’s Mom wasn’t nearly as snoopy as mine,  which is why I gave them to Beth in the first place.)  I always knew Mom snooped, so I made sure Mom never found anything good such as cigarettes, “smut” books, birth control pills, short skirts, fishnets, etc. in any of my stuff.  I had a few friends once I got a car, and with them, divers places to stash incriminating stuff.

hide guns

I like the concept of stashing one’s guns under the stairs.  I like stashing the gun next to the bed even better.

I wasn’t into ordinary flowery *clean* “romance” stories (think Hallmark Channel snooze fare, or the Harlequin romances Grandma liked to read.) I liked the more juicy ones that usually didn’t have much for a plot, but didn’t leave out the graphic details.  Cut to the chase, already.  I also had a taste for mystery and who-dunnits for a time, along with my usual historical and scientific non-fiction fare, but when I was in high school I would pretty much read anything and everything I could get my hands on.  Today, because I have to do other things (like it or not) I have to be a bit more judicious in my literary choices.  Let’s face it, the myriad ways of performing the conjugal act get a bit overhyped at times, and I need a bodice-ripper like a hole in the head these days. My imagination does not need any assistance in that realm.  Besides, If I’m going to spend time in fiction I want a good story.  Something with an actual plot that’s deeper than, “spying his turgid member, she unzipped his pants…” I want something epic, something meaty, or why bother?


Whether you like fiction or fantasy (normally I am not into either) or not, Tolkien is awesome.  I’ve read these more times than I can count.

I never read a lot of fiction (other than the aforementioned bodice-rippers, and I’m really not compelled to go for bodice-rippers any more) but I did and still do like Stephen King.  I may not agree with his politics (I don’t) but he is a hell of a writer.  One of my favorites authored by King is the book IT, (not to be confused as a horror novel about IT, which is good given that many in the IT profession are quite scary enough,) so I simply had to get it on Kindle.

Maybe I shouldn’t put it like this, but Kindle is a hyperlexic’s high holy fantasy.  There are millions of books available for momentary download for a modest fee (and some are even free.)  Since my particular Kindle has 3G and Wi-Fi I can pretty much download anytime and anywhere, meaning I have to be careful in the Kindle Store.  I have limited myself to one book a week, and only if I have finished the previous one.  There is something just plain magical about having so much reading material at one’s fingertips.


My favorite Stephen King book, except for maybe The Stand.  It might be a tie.

I read IT back in 1987 shortly after its release in paperback.  I couldn’t afford hard back books at that time.  $4.95 was pricey enough back in those days, but worthwhile.  I couldn’t put it down- and read it the first time in about two days.  This time I am taking my time and only reading a few chapters at a time, for no other reason than I don’t have entire days to lock myself away to just read anymore.  I really miss being able to do that from time to time. I am one of those incorrigible nerd types who can get lost in a book and forget just about everything else.

IT,  I am finding, is a more personal story for me now than it was in 1987.  When I read IT the first time, there wasn’t much distance between me as the 10 year old and me as the 18 year old.  It was a great story, but I didn’t really identify with the characters back then.  Today I can understand their perspective much better.   There is a lifetime of distance and several changes of spheres between me as the 10 year old, and me as the forty-something.  There are those long-forgotten incidents and pictures from the back of the brain box that I don’t always acknowledge are there until some external event triggers the memory.  There are plenty of incidents I’d rather forget, and many pictures that are best left buried deep and not disturbed from their sleep.


Such as: every day.

Even more unnerving, just as Derry, Maine had its scandals and secrets and monsters in the closets (and the drainage system,) I come from a small town with a history that is mired in intrigue, scandal, untimely death and *evil?* just as the fictional Derry was.  Some of that history is fascinating and some of it tragic, but none of it rests well.  My own personal history rests uneasily too.





I’m Not Normal, You’re Screwed Up, and That Might Be OK


screwed upStraight to you from the compost heap.  Steamy!

The self-help subdivision of pseudopsychology offers a rich source of fodder for the cynical mind.  Since my mind is one of the most cynical around, I’ve found self-help (with rare exception) to be more of a source of self-humor than self-help.

True self-improvement is a beautiful thing, but changing one’s character or habits in a meaningful way is neither typical nor easy.  I’ve been saying for years how I want to have washboard abs (yeah, right) or thousands of dollars saved back, but those things don’t happen.  My physical condition is better than it was, which only means that I have both feet out of the coffin instead of only one.  Financially, well, there are people worse off than me and I’ll leave that exactly where it is.  I’m thankful every time I’m able to pay for my scripts and have food in the fridge.

pink coffin feet out

I think the thing that really turned me against the self-help genre was the plethora of vapid works available in the 80s and 90s.  Crap like “Think Yourself Thin” and “Co-Dependent No More” might actually be useful for some people, depending on where they’re coming from.  However, I am not a typical woman.  Appealing to my emotions doesn’t generally do squat for me.  Appealing to my intellect can influence me, if the information given is relevant.  I need a do this=____result.  I don’t do very well with a maybe do this and maybe something might result- or not.

There is a lot to be said for making a conscious choice to behave differently, to achieve specific goals, etc., but that determination only goes so far.  I’m all too aware of how finite and limited my efforts are.

One of the techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy (which, by the way, can be effective if it’s used properly) is to “re-write your script.”  The thought behind this is that if you can convince yourself that you really weren’t the little geek kid who was continually getting beaten up, you’ll be able to respond and function in a healthier way as an adult.  If you can convince yourself that you used to be Billy Bad Ass back in the day, instead of the nerd who got tossed face first in the trash barrel every morning, then you might be able to act like Billy Bad Ass now, instead of always being the town doormat.

As much as I like the concept behind the re-write, it’s a bit intellectually dishonest.   I was never Billy Bad Ass.  The closest I ever came to it was the one time I beat the hell out of my oldest sister, and that was a gut reaction fueled by years of repressed rage.

However, with a little creativity, “re-writing my script” could be hilarious as hell.

I wasn’t a sickly kid born into a poor family who got my ass kicked on a daily basis for the first thirteen years of my life.  Hell no.  I was a freaking princess, complete with a tiara.

snow white yeah rightCheck it out!

I liked to kick ass, so I took martial arts lessons and got my black belt in Karate.

i'm a ninjaHow you like me now?

And when I got older and was mega-cool, I got to hang out with Steve Perry.

me Steve PerryYeah, we were buds back in 1983.

While coming up with such stunning fictional scenarios can be fun, then it raises the question, “What the hell happened?”

Apparently I need to lower my standards.

I wonder if this is creative use of Paint or Photoshop, or if someone really had the balls to spray paint this on a real sign:

speeding excuseSomething in my twisted sense of humor hopes it’s real.