Tom Petty

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Photo by Adam Grabek on Unsplash

Today, I tried to explain who Tom Petty was and what he meant to me growing up as a teenager — to my own teenaged son.

I put my shock and grief aside to give James a small music history lesson, in a kind of daze. As I did so, I felt sorry for him and his auto-tune-loving generation, because they will never know a musician like Petty in their lifetime.

Petty, 66, was pretty damned special, although he’d be the first to look at you strangely if said this out loud.

The Gainesville, FL native suffered full cardiac arrest last night, found in his Malibu home — right around the time a lone gunmen went on a shooting rampage in Vegas.

As usual, the mainstream media went with ratings instead of responsible journalism, sending out early reports that he died, that his family pulled the plug on his life support. His daughter’s pissed at “Rolling Stone” for the premature ejaculation.

Her Instagram post is a thing of beauty:

“my dad is not dead yet but your fucking magazine is ⚡️⚡️⚡️your slim😵has been pieces of tabloid dog shit. You put the worst artists on your covers do zero research. How dare you report that my father has died just to get press because your articles and photos are so dated. I will fucking shit down your throat and your family’s . Try not being a trump vibe. This is my father not a celebrity. An artist and human being. Fuck u”

The guitar rebel who composed and performed music his way — fuck the establishment — provided a huge chunk of the soundtrack of my childhood growing up in Aiea in the late 1970s-’80s.

While everybody else vibed to the fleeting trends of the day — mindless electronica, disco, funk-lite, Journey (vomit) — I listened to Tom Petty, my life raft in a sea of manufactured, corrugated pretense.

Petty lived for music. He refused to settle. Not exactly Loverboy or Poison pretty, the rock guitarist nevertheless shook his own special brand of rebel next door, the kid who sat in the back of your class, looked out the window, and bolted the second the bell rang.

He voice was real, his songs, casual, honest musings with friends while cruising empty one-horse towns.

His songs spoke directly to the outcast and the rebel in me, dying to get out without fear of reprisal. They promised the imperfect, but eternal love of the damned, in a sinking boat together, watching the stars power out before the world went insane. He was literally that boy who winked and rolled his eyes from across the crowded cafeteria of cheerleaders, jocks, and band geeks, (the boy you wished so badly were real) — as if to share a private joke, as if to reassure you that it’ll be okay, these people are fucking morons and we’re gonna make our own rules.

I used to marvel at his effortless songwriting, blending infectious, mesmerizing hooks that rode on for miles, embedded with deceptively deep lyrics that bled and slipped seamlessly into roaming, racing musical pockets.

Just listen to “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Running Down A Dream,” “American Girl,” “Don’t Do Me Like That,” “You Wreck Me.”

I would hear “Running Down A Dream” — written with Jeff Lynne and Michael Campbell — in a loop whenever I rushed from one appointment to another, trapped in my car during rush hour, watching the world whiz by in the passenger seat, on to the next mundane adventure.

His guitar in the fade took me to another place, one where I wasn’t afraid to strip down and trip out, where the mundane became quietly spectacular.

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” featured the best opening guitar riff in the history of rock. That lovemaking riff invited you inside this sick, sad, lonely world immediately until you wanted to be a dead and gone Mary Jane.

His guitar may have riffed, but his lyrics danced in a slow-burning bump and grind. “I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m tired of this town again” defined me.

I remember hearing “Don’t Do Me Like That” on the radio my sophomore year in high school, and going out of my mind, thinking this can’t be possible: rock, grit, and this driving, awesome rhythm for days. I went to Hungry Ear Records for a 45 vinyl copy. It was Petty’s first hit in a string of them.

The post-hippie crowd embraced Bruce Springsteen as their prophet. I had Tom Petty, who IMHO, was just as profound in his own reluctant way, because he, too, spoke of what really mattered in life, beyond the bullshit.

He sang of relationships, of fighting through crippling insecurities to find one minute of bliss — whether it was one last fling, or the feel of an open road, windows down, wind at your back.

G-d I loved his music. I will miss him most of all, if he does indeed move on soon.

*Tom Petty died Monday, 8:40 p.m. PT.

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In the beginning of the week, my brother called from a private number. He left a voicemail asking me to ask my husband to add his new number to the family plan.

Mom gave me a new phone. I can’t do this myself. It has to be Ed, since he’s the one who pays for the family plan, was basically the gist.

I forwarded his voicemail to my husband, then followed up when he got home from work — only to be met with this, “I don’t understand what he means. Did he get a new number?”

When I got my mom on the phone two days later to thank her for the birthday money she mailed my husband — she does that for all of us, and expects me to respond with a call immediately, or I’m an inconsiderate piece of shit — I brought up the new cell phone issue.

I simply relayed my husband’s response to her. She immediately attacked me, raising her voice, getting agitated, and repeating over and over that she gave my brother the new phone, what’s the problem?

I kept explaining until she seemed to understand and promised to tell my brother. “Have him call Ed, not me, since it’s Ed’s deal. Does he have Ed’s cell—”

Mom cut me off again, “Yeah, yeah, he got Ed’s cell phone number. I’ll have James not call you but Ed.”

Five minutes later, I’m in the kitchen with my hands full when I hear my cell phone ring. Sigh.

When I check my voicemail a few hours later, it’s my brother calling me right back, sounding as if he’s on the verge of exploding. (This is a man who will literally lose his shit in a restaurant if we’re not opening his Christmas gifts before perusing the menu, or joking around about the airline accidentally breaking off a leaf in the pear paperweight he and his wife gave me.)

He said he was confused by my message, like, what was there to be confused about, aka, why couldn’t I just do what he wanted without my bullshit, like I was the problem?

He made it sound as if I was singlehandedly a) inconveniencing him with stupid questions, and b) interfering with his happiness. Just do what I say, and STFU.

My whole life…

I felt my blood pressure starting to rise, like the good old days when he would flip out for no reason, humiliate me in public, then turn it around — start some shit then point blame when I reacted with understandable anger. All my life, that jackass would try to undercut, insult, and beat me down. “You’re a psycho,” he would say, “I pity the guy you marry. Actually, nobody’s gonna want to be around you.”

I took a deep breath, shrugged him off, then went about my day.

I also forwarded his second voicemail to Ed. I was done getting slammed for being the messenger.

If Ed responds, great, they can deal with it together, and my brother can kiss my husband’s ass like he always does. If not, fuck it, and fuck him, he can find a way to pay for his own fucking cell phone.

You’re welcome, asshole.

Joggers

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Just put all his clothes up there. Photo by Caspar Rubin on Unsplash

“You shrunk my Hollister pants, mom.”

With that, I spent most of today in a ridiculous, laundry-related rabbit hole. I just finished the only meal of the day at 9:30 p.m., and I’m finishing up the last of my venti Pike Place Starbucks Roast, which means I’ll be up all night (again) until my PT appt. tomorrow at 9 a.m.

How the hell do I end up here?

It all started when I got the bright idea of joining the family photo shoot bandwagon. I know a shitload of professional photographers for some reason. One of them’s a fellow soccer mom; we go back to when our sons first played on a rec team together in grade school.

She’s very chill. Strictly casual, nothing fancy, whatever we’re comfortable in.

Except we’re not a normal family. We can’t even rustle up “casual” for the occasion. Our idea of casual is a pair of torn, filthy sweat pants and an old t-shirt, with a hundred running shoes lying around.

As soon as Meghan suggested khakis and jeans, I began to panic.

Our son James, 15, had informed me earlier in the week that all three pairs of his Hollister khaki joggers were too small, and that I’d shrunk them in the dryer.

Apparently Hollister clothes, especially the pants, need to be air-dried. And washed in cold water, with like colors.

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Mommy shrunk the Hollister!

“My pants shrunk two sizes,” he blithely informed me after I’d already sent out texts to some of my friends about whether their sons could wear any of them.

I asked him, “What size is a small anyway? A mom wants to know.”

“I don’t know. Small. Doesn’t matter anyway, they shrunk at the waist and the length.”

“But what was the waist, in-seam, and length of a small when you first bought these pants?”

“A small!”

“How did you know they fit you?” I asked, already feeling doomed.

“I tried them on! Can I go now?”

Ugh! Teenagers.

After freaking out for 15 minutes and giving this teenager a 20-minute lecture, which then made him frustrated beyond belief — doors slamming, screaming and cursing — we ordered four pairs of replacement pants from the Hollister site, in a medium this time. We vowed to remember the special instructions, even though taking the time to baby the pants is gonna be a colossal pain in the ass in an already pain-in-the-ass busy schedule.

As I sorted today’s laundry, I realized that about 95 percent of my son’s clothes belongs in the wash in cold with like colors, tumble or air dry.

Ninety-five percent.

We then agreed that from now on, he handles his own laundry except the soccer uniform. That should free some of my time, or not.

I remember when we threw clothes in the wash and didn’t think twice about them. This is why everybody wore jeans back in my day. Unfortunately, James would rather wear a dress.

When I was his age, I was lucky to wear anything remotely on trend. I wanted to wear Converse and Keds, Levis and rock t-shirts so badly, with the cool aviator jackets in the 1970s, then overalls and denim jackets in the ’80s.

My mom bought her clothes, my hand-me-downs, from Korean stores, so they were cheap and godawful gaudy. G-d knows where my dad got my clothes from, probably the Salvation Army.

I don’t think I ever wore jeans until college, and then, I could only fit in men’s, because I was such a fat ass.

When I dropped all that weight running six miles a day, I didn’t have time to buy a huge wardrobe, so I just hung around in the same hand-me-down sweats my mom got from her friends. I owned two pair of sweat pants, both ripped at the ass.

Nothing ever fit me, either, since I was always overweight.

I wore an awful lot of polyester and corduroy, Buster Browns, and generic white tennis shoes. It’s a wonder I didn’t get my ass beat on a regular basis at school.

I would’ve killed to have a Hollister at Pearl Ridge, near where I went to high school. Some of the girls’ clothes are super-fly. I especially dig the flannel and the ripped skinny pants (pink and red, please).

Currently, I’m rocking extra-large bargain basement finds from Sports Authority a week before stores closed for good. Way too small for my body, fyi.

There are two huge laundry baskets full of clothes I need to sort, fold, and put away. They’ll probably sit there for another week, until the next five loads.

 

Le Pichet

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Photo by Peter Miranda on Unsplash

His world is meat and potatoes, hold the beans

I held his coagulated blood in the palm of my hand one fretful night between the cancer and the next colonoscopy. The red liver tissue jiggled like Jell-O.

I am here, always, waiting for you, cafe au lait beside my notes and my rusty pen. I know the difference.

You will smell my hair before sliding into the seat, pulling mine closer, an embarrassing display — one I have hungered for, given my American diet. You always sip thoughtfully, tearing dainty bites of one croissant, lightly scorched at the edges, fingering my arm. Every morning, the same petit déjeuner while I run to catch up.

I miss this world, a world away. And, neither of us are French. We gypsy in and out of focus when the cause suits us.

I wonder where you are this very moment, stuck in line at the nearest McDonald’s, because she says so, stuck in a book, while the children gather around the manufactured extra-large stuffed crust.

We celebrated a birthday, my love. I thought of you when the sommelier passed by, on to another table, while watching these familiar strangers gorge on flesh, adulterated Yukon Golds.

lentils, parsnips, little plates of octopus, this crepe I turn away for hamburger until the day I bury this life beneath ten thousand

Your kisses taste of wild strawberries.

Body Shots

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Photo by Juskteez Vu on Unsplash

I saw a shooting star over the Ala Wai Canal. It was dusk, or dark, I forget which.

Before I made my wish, before I turned to point out my fallen star, another one splashed into the murky, bacteria-laden water, then another until — with a start — I realized those weren’t stars but people, then mottled meteors made up of people, flotsam, and the detonated debris of 1940s atomic bombs.

Today, those stars are gone. But I still crane my neck to look up at as much of Hawaii’s blue sky as I can, vaguely remembering the gray cast over Fourth & Pike before the world disappeared in the vastness of your five-minute phone call, pretending to be someone I love.

Cheer: The Little Girl Inside

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My brother and me in front of our home on 7th St. in Ft. Shafter.

Everybody thinks I’m this resting bitch face tomboy. But deep inside, I’m still a girly-girl.

Growing up with the most beautiful woman in the world can be intimidating. So, I think what I did was go in the opposite direction, in order to find myself and carve out my own identity.

I sure as hell couldn’t compete in that beauty pageant. I wouldn’t have even wanted to try. To do so would’ve been a total disaster.

I may have shied away from such a world, but that didn’t mean I hated everything about it. Quite the contrary.

I used to sit close to my mom every night when she got ready for work at the NCO club and then later, the bars. Connie would never be caught dead in public without full make-up, the hair and the long polished nails, stilettos, and fancy dress — even to the grocery store for milk for god’s sakes.

Overkill for sure. But also quite glam for a dirty little tomboy like me.

It was the greatest show on earth — and I enjoyed a front-row seat.

To this day, I still like sneaking on a little eye shadow here, the hottest trends in nail polish there. That’s one habit I still indulge in. Only a few people in my life know that if I’m at a drugstore, I will open up a bottle of nail polish and quickly brush on the prettiest color.

Another little-known fact is that I used to be a cheerleader.

I only joined, because my best friend Belinda did. We were both in third grade. I didn’t last long, either. I could do a cartwheel and cheating splits, but not much else.

Let’s face it, I was far from cheer material. Ask the football players barking and fake-barfing in the sidelines.

But I still loved watching cheerleaders. That never went away.

My favorite time of the year was late summer during tryouts in Ft. Shafter, Honolulu.

I would ride my bike over to this large field beneath the church and the NCO club, sit on the side of a small hill, and watch these girls make their moves well after the sun set.

The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were my absolute favorite, as was the football team during the reign of Roger Staubach. There was even a TV movie in 1979 about the DCC. You know damned well I was front and center in my living room, excited as hell for Jane Seymour and Lauren Tewes to bring it!

Everyone has a bucket list. Travel big, live large, see the Seven Wonders of the World…

Mine was always to see the DCC live at a football game.

Currently, I’m back on the treadmill after a six-week rest of my injured knee, catching up on the last two years of CMT’s “Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making The Team” — a major guilty pleasure.

Every single thing about being a girl is on this show, from the make-up and hair, to the athleticism, dance moves, and glam beauty. These cheerleaders are also huge role models, not just for little girls, but for me — 45 years after thrilling to those Ft. Shafter tryouts.

One DCC candidate’s studying to be a doctor, another held back tears remembering the sudden death of her brother, a Japanese veteran’s back after surviving the language barrier and crippling loneliness. Her Texan mentor’s bubbly enthusiasm and self-sacrifice made me cry.

I live vicariously through these cheerleaders, to the little girl I could’ve been had my mom been less of a beauty queen and more of human being, less self-centered and more generous with her time.

When I watch the DCC, I am that little girl again at my mother’s vanity table, marveling at the glittery magic that transforms the ordinary into the beautiful, the kind of woman who turns heads whenever she walks into a room.

I harbor no illusions that I am one of them. But it’s nice to cheer those who are.

Symbicort Saved My Son’s Life

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My son’s currently sick with a cold: runny nose, sore throat, cough. These symptoms wouldn’t bother most healthy people. But for a kid with uncontrolled asthma, they can mean the difference between life and death.

Three years ago, my son received a flu shot, his first FluMist® — the one that goes in the nose and has since been discontinued due to ineffectiveness (the irony). The next day, he felt mild symptoms of a flu, followed by a nagging cough that steadily grew worse until he couldn’t breathe, and we had to rush him to Seattle Children’s Hospital’s ER in the University District in the dead of night.

After several more trips and more Prednisone, doctors concluded that James suffered from asthma, most likely cough-variant until round after round of the cold and flu virus finally kicked in the classic symptoms.

Even after doctors put him on a controller (Qvar®) with a rescue inhaler, James would still get sick then get asthma attacks. He barely staved off the last one when his Pulmonary doctor ramped him up to the controversial controller/rescue inhaler (Budesonide and Formoterol) combo.

I know Big Pharma gets a bad rap. But Symbicort® saved my son’s life.

The second he took it in, he reported that he could breathe fully for the first time. His breathing test showed remarkable improvement.

His Pulmonary doctor and allergist still recommended the usual protocol whenever he exercised, encountered his allergy trigger (Timothy grass), and got a cold or flu. Yet, my son never had to use his rescue inhaler except one time during a summer soccer camp when it was really hot. He also hasn’t coughed unless he’s accidentally choking on his own spit, which was as weird as it was confirmation that he’d probably been born with cough-variant asthma that acted up in middle school.

He’s still on Symbicort, back to two puffs twice a day after the last breathing test this summer indicated a dip in his levels, not alarming but not normal for a kid his age.

Two winters ago, I caught that horrible bug, the one that lasted months not weeks. Many people went to their doctors for antibiotics. I held off, surviving on doTerra essential oils, NeilMed® sinus rinses, and lots of prayer.

My son caught the same bug, which scared me to death. Luckily, he got over it in a week without incident, while I freaked out every time I heard wheezing come out of me (mucus, not asthma, thank heavens).

If it weren’t for Symbicort, I don’t know where we would be. Probably in and out of the ER, on and off Prednisone, endless doctor’s visits for subsequent side effects, including depression and anxiety.

I remember back then feeling horribly alone and afraid for my son’s life. I didn’t know what was going on. I was hyper-vigilant about every sniffle. Every time he coughed, my heart sank in my chest.

A lot of people stepped up to offer me compassion.

One mom did more than that.

Mary helped me navigate through blind terror into a concrete plan of action. Mary’s son Joe and mine were on the same championship baseball team, Rage Cage. She went through similar experiences, different diagnosis, with her son. She encouraged me to continue advocating for James’ health, to push for a better solution if one doesn’t work, and to remember that this was one “bump in the road,” especially when I wept about the effects of Prednisone on my little boy’s psyche.

Mary saved my life. I will never be able to thank her enough. Her son is a shining example of not only survival but victory. Joe’s an amazing kid, kind, brave, strong, athletic, and a natural leader. He was the soul of that baseball team.

It’s been about three years since Symbicort. I’ve watched my son thrive in the same way, through baseball, basketball, track & field, and soccer seasons. He’s won and lost games, suffered injuries, and needed recovery time — like every other young athlete. He’s gone to Homecoming, stayed up for cram sessions and video game marathons, things normal teenagers get to do without batting an eye.

Except James isn’t a normal teenager. He takes his medication and vitamins, needs a little more rest in between activities, his hands are a bit clammy, and they shake a little. He’s aware, whether he wants to be or not, about the fragility of life. He wishes he could stop taking his meds, but knows that without them, his own life would get much worse. At least for now.

I still worry every time James comes to me with the dreaded, “Mom, I’m sick.” But it’s not as bad as it used to be.

Besides, I can’t keep him in a box, safely encased in bubble wrap, away from his friends. That’s no way to live.

Symbicort gave my son his life back. For that, for right now, that means the world to me.

No Room at LinkedIn

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Photo by Eric Michael on Unsplash

Hi Carol,

We really appreciate you taking the time to apply for our open position at Reviews.com. Unfortunately, we’ve decided not to move forward with your application at this time. If you’re interested in staying connected with us, you can follow our LinkedIn page.

Take Care,

Reviews.com

At our award-winning high school newspaper, Ka Leo O Aiea, I was considered the worst layout design editor in the entire staff.

I also happened to be the youngest editor-in-chief and the one who helped put Aiea High School on the map as “Most Improved” statewide at a prestigious newspaper-sponsored, year-end competition.

Back in the 1970s, we did everything by hand, from the typesetting to publishing at actual printing presses. I remember having to painstakingly remove each sticky letter of each font family with the edge of a sharp X-ACTO knife, and then line them up for a headline on a blue-penciled hairline we drew with a T-Square.

G-d, those were the days, everyone hovered half in/half out of their desks, some of us cursing wildly (me), others in the zone, deadline ticking away.

When they invented online publishing — PageMaker, Quark — I couldn’t wait. I started my first full-time job as editor of the Chamber of Commerce in Honolulu. The public relations director hired me out of all the other candidates, despite my lack of experience, almost straight out of college, because Mary Jane Van Buren, god rest her soul, had a feeling about me.

I never let her down.

During those three formative years, I was the first editor to ever make every deadline — even when I was laid up after major surgery.

I fell in love with layout design, hovering over the pages with my T-Square and my blue pencil, and my Pagemaker text printouts. The smell of the printing press, the sound of the tick-tick-ticking typewriters… absolutely sublime.

When online publishing evolved at the turn of the century, I was in hog heaven. I could do everything on the computer, sitting at my desk with my coffee, my apple, and my stack of RV magazine articles.

I loved the way I could line up the text and image boxes into any design I wanted. I became quite good at it, too. If only Mrs. Hao and the Ka Leo gang could see me now.

The past two days have been a blur. It’s time to put out the Fall issue of the musicians union newsletter. I have until the end of Sept. Piece of cake.

Well, until I accidentally overwrote the last issue instead of making a copy to work from. Whoops! I’m still figuring out LucidPress.

I’m ahead of the game this time around, though, thanks to some online tutorials I whizzed through while waiting out my son’s soccer practices.

I’m kind of the editor of the union newsletter. It’s very much a part-time gig, one I got because of a musician friend of my husband’s over in Hawaii.

Before I worked on the fall issue, I submitted yet another resume via LinkedIn for yet another tech writing job I know I will not even be remotely considered for. I labored over the required cover letter late in the evening to early morning. I tried like hell to sell myself, despite my age and my stay-at-home-mom status.

Of course I received another politely worded, probably computer-generated rejection.

I knew I was wasting my time the second I decided to submit myself. Looking around at the company’s employees, I saw that all of them were young, attractive, and hip on the tech-savvy language of the day.

Maybe one or two of them were also extremely good at what they did, above and beyond the extravagant lawyer-speak of a job description every fancy pants corporate employer tries to sell you on.

Let’s be real here. I’m 53. The corporate world, circa 2017, will never hire me. There aren’t any more Mary Jane Van Burens around to take a chance on a rookie right out of college with a certain hungry look in her eye. I’m no longer a rookie, after all.

Life, and jobs, are for the young.

If I want a job now, I have to piecemeal one together from odds and ends, start my own low-key company… baking, crocheting, amateur sports photography… Too busy to cook? I’ll make dinner for your family!

And, maybe ditch LinkedIn, which is becoming more and more like a poor man’s Facebook.

Fat Safe

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Me and my mom embarking on a Caribbean cruise back in 2005.

I can count the number of times I felt beautiful on one hand.

The first time, a boy named Bobby joined the rest of us neighborhood kids for a game of kick ball. Me and Thahn were bickering good-naturedly when I overheard, “Is she your girlfriend?” I looked over at this tall, lanky blond with the shy smile, just as Thahn, the prick, recoiled at the thought. But Bobby just beamed. He would sneak looks back at me in the cafeteria from across several tables, or in our English Honors class, blushing. We played basketball in his driveway, threw a frisbee in the middle of Juniper Street, sat on his front porch in comfortable silence. He taught me how to say “I Love You” in German. That spring and early summer were the best times of my life. Textbook.

The second time, I was out of college in my early 20s. My friends and I were at a nightclub overlooking Waikiki Beach, dancing up a storm. INXS’s “New Sensation” played when this tall, handsome blond came over and shyly asked if he could dance with me. We danced through two songs when he apologized, signaling for the restroom and begging me to stay put. He rushed back to dance one more when one of my friends, the troublesome one, threw a fit because nobody asked her to dance. She demanded I drive her home. I had to leave without saying goodbye. He was the first guy who ever asked me to dance. I never got his name.

If I could rewind my life, try again, I would. Maybe different parents, parents who treated me like a girl instead of a handicap or a punching bag. Maybe a brother who didn’t constantly deflect by calling me psycho and blimp.

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Good Lord. At my worst vacationing back in Hawaii, 2010.

Other than these two times, I’ve never felt truly beautiful. How could I?

I survived physical and emotional abuse, molestation and date rape.

My relationships have been short-lived or disastrous: a closeted gay, a Ninja in his own mind, a freak, a hermit who hated going out in public with me, an English professor who used me to play out a B movie about manic-depression and saving the pudgy girl in sweat pants.

The sex hasn’t exactly been movie-worthy, either. Mostly backwoods, back-alley shit. Furtive groping shot in the dark. Gross. The feeling you get after sneaking porn on your dad’s cable box.

My problem is that I don’t want to be beautiful. I can’t handle the baggage.

I’d rather be safe.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that an awful lot of overweight people have been violated in the worst way first.

I can hide under all this fat. I can avoid attention, good or bad.

My mom says I’m not pretty. My dad says I’m not good enough. My brother says I’m a huge psycho nobody will ever want to marry.

Bullies say I’m a flat-faced, slant-eyed gook jap chink go back where you came from go kill yourself.

I fought back a few times, got right with my body… But, I wasn’t comfortable with the attention focused on my tight ass, my shapely tits, my long ballerina-like neck. That’s what my molesters zeroed in on, too, making a mockery of what I should’ve been proud of.

Beautiful? That’s what Linda used to say over and over in her shed as she pawed over my 11-year-old body. I thought she was my best friend in sixth grade. How fucking stupid was I? Later, she wrote, “sick pertry” over her yearbook photo, after she soiled herself over the goods.

I learned real fast to keep my head down, to blend in, to be as invisible as possible.

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Me as a child, before the world came in.

I married a man who was afraid he wasn’t attracted to me, because, and I quote, “You aren’t my dream girl.” He tried to break up with me a month into dating, because he just couldn’t see himself with me, the antithesis of his beloved Elle Macpherson.

Instead of walking away, I held on, thinking this man was the best I was going to get. I felt comfortable, I felt safe with him. So, that was love in my world.

I know that he wanted to run many times, especially after I ballooned up past the point of no return a decade and some change after we tied the knot. I could feel his contempt. My mom would visit and add insult to injury, commenting, “Why he never open doors for you? Why you have to carry groceries? Maybe ’cause you gain so much weight. You need to make yourself look nice for your husband.”

If I were him, I would’ve left me years ago for that supermodel in his mind.

I could’ve at least tried to get back into shape. I did it before.

Maybe I gave up. Maybe it was too easy to go with the flow, let the stronger personalities take over, focus on my family over my own needs.

Maybe I simply didn’t care what I looked like anymore.

Until I had no choice.

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Me today, before our Montana trip over Labor Day Weekend.

What did it for me was visiting a friend who went past pre- into full-blown diabetes, along with a host of other afflictions. I didn’t want to be like her. That was five years ago.

I dropped a lot of weight through a lot of hard work and self-deprivation. I’m not quite there yet, though. I go up and down, depending on vacations, weekends, a movie night out, mapo tofu. Sometimes reaching 130 pounds, never mind 165, seems so far away, so goddamned impossible, so fucking pointless.

Yet, I persevere, so that I can stick around for my family. Every time I eat right and exercise, I regain a piece of myself. I redefine what it means to be beautiful — not on their terms, but my own.

“IT’s” Pennywise, the Walking, Farting Clown Balloon

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Don’t be scared. It’s okay! Sarah and I got through “IT!”

I confess, I kept putting “IT” off.

The reviews, previews, and social media chatter scared me. Turns out, they scared me more than the movie did.

It helps to have read the Stephen King novel first. For any movie adaptation. You can split your attention from the movie, to the movie maker’s attention to the novel detail. Less chance for sudden cardiac arrest, ’cause you’re more prepared for the next surprise attack, too.

Once my friend Sarah and I got over the initial horror of watching Pennywise, the clown, lure Bill’s younger brother to his violent, sewer death (there, I saved you the first heart attack), the rest of this movie isn’t that hard to sit through.

A few moviegoers have likened “IT The Movie” to “Stand By Me,” a 1986, Rob Reiner-directed film adaptation of another Stephen King story. Both feature compelling child actors and future stars bringing the cast of unlikely heroes — the losers club — to vibrant life.

They create a story within a story. They are, in fact, the heart of this “horror” story.

It’s not really a true horror film, anyway. Not like “Exorcist” was. Now, that was some scary shit. I had nightmares for years after, sure that Satan and his minions would take possession over me next.

“IT” is really about the power of friendship. These childhood friends are so powerful that, in the novel, they defeat the monster an entire town succumbed to since its inception. Not only that, in true King fashion, they are also outcasts hampered by what society would view as handicaps: Bill, the reluctant leader, stutters; Bevy, the beautiful spark of courage, suffers from an unfounded bad reputation as the town whore (her father molests her); Ben’s extremely smart with the heart of a romantic poet buried deep inside, but he’s terribly overweight; Eddie, the precocious hypochondriac, has asthma (or so he thinks); Mike, the only black kid around, is, well, black in a small town of mostly white people; and on and on it goes.

These outcasts are drawn together by the monsters in the town, both real (bullies) and imagined (the clown). Together, they discover exquisite joy in spite of the darkness, the kind of joy you earn the hard way, the kind old people reminisce about on their death beds: spending summers doing what every kid should, jumping off cliffs, swimming in the lake, riding their bikes, sunning themselves, chilling to music, talking about their dreams, going through adventures… things we Baby Boomers and some Millennials fondly remember doing before the advent of the ultimate childhood killer — “The Cell.”

But that’s for another Stephen King movie.

Weeks before “IT” came out, everybody was talking about Bill Skarsgård’s terrifying new clown.

I found Tim Curry’s Pennywise scarier in the 1990 miniseries. The British actor (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”) played it for real, so you could imagine this actually happening down your street. His clown emanated evil, as if born and bred for possession. That’s horror.

Skarsgård was more … cartoonish, maybe? Especially toward the end. He reminded me of a blow-up clown, a balloon, or child’s toy come to life but just barely.

Even in the first scene with Georgie, Skarsgård’s clown seemed almost bored, as if amped up on Ritalin toward the end of his carnie pitch. Yeah, that’s it. This Pennywise acted like a creepy man-child — hiding an unspeakably brutal past.

In the book, Pennywise is almost more terrifying than the demons in “Exorcist,” and I’m not kidding. If you started with “The Shining,” you know what I mean.

The only letdown was the ending, when the grown kids confront the source of all the evil projection. **Spoiler below**

It’s a goddamned spider the size of Jabba, the Hut. WTF, that’s IT?!

I sure hope TPTB go deeper in the sequels, the next movie, and another TV miniseries, I hear.

My husband and son refuse to see “IT,” period. They won’t even listen to me talk about it. I think my husband could, if he focused on the “Stand By Me” angle.

But our son would walk out during the scene where one of the kids gets locked in a room surrounded by clown dolls. A shame, because James would love the story about these outcasts kicking evil clown ass.

You will too. Just don’t expect the clown to be all that evil.