Friday, August 22, 2014

Mystery Novels Can Be Hazardous to Your Sleep


Maybe I should stick to reading romances before bedtime. I suspect that reading mystery novels probably isn’t the best way to relax at the end of the day.

The other night, I stayed up way too late because I wanted to finish reading a serial killer novel. Actually, another character with homicidal tendencies also popped up in the story. That one was a surprise— and not a pleasant one.

Later that night, or, more likely, very early the next morning, I had a dream about the second murderer, the one who wasn’t a serial killer. I’ll call him “Dewey,” but that’s not his fictional real name.

I dreamed that Dewey had kidnapped me and one of my friends. He threatened to kill us if we made the proverbial false move. Dewey drove us to a humongous industrial complex where he forced us to apply for assembly line jobs at a company that manufactured some of those widgets hyped in “as seen on TV” ads. To add to the weirdness, the interviewer looked a lot like someone I had worked with back in the Late Jurassic Period.

I told the interviewer that the creep lurking at the back of the room had shanghaied my friend and me. I repeatedly asked the interviewer to call the police, but he ignored my pleas. He kept chattering away like a wound-up robot, expounding on the requirements for the job and complaining about Obamacare. Then he asked, “If we hire you, will you go to the company picnic?”

(Yikes! I actually was asked that question during an interview, but it wasn’t a picnic; it was a Christmas party. And, yes, I was hired. And, yes, I went.)

I was desperate to ditch both Dewey and the interviewer. One scared me and had a gun and the other seemed insane. Fortunately, stupid Dewey had neglected to confiscate my cell phone. So I went to the ladies’ room and frantically scrolled through my contacts list. Instead of calling 9-1-1, I searched for a certain individual’s phone number. I found it and poked the number.

And then I woke up.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

I Was a 4-H Dropout


When I was nine years old (back in the Early Jurassic Period), my mother suggested that I join 4-H. I guess she thought I needed to develop an interest in something other than reading Nancy Drew novels and scribbling stories in notebooks. I thought I really needed to get out more, so I joined a 4-H sewing club. However, I didn’t do much sewing during the meetings. I went to them mainly to socialize with my friends.

I also attended a 4-H overnight camp for two summers when I was ten and eleven. Those were semi-interesting experiences involving prowler rumors, 6 a.m. swims, a teenage liaison that ended badly, and a cabin mate who talked me into accompanying her on an emergency trip to the outhouse way after midnight. (Thanks to raging teen hormones, our cabin was sans counselor at the time. I still wonder if he got kicked out too.)

But I digress.

With Mom’s, um, encouragement, I always managed to turn a couple of yards of material into something recognizable as clothing by “judgment day.” That was the Saturday in April or May when all the 4-H sewing clubs in the county got together at a local high school to display their members’ projects.

While several sewing mavens inspected our efforts and awarded ribbons attached to tags that read, excellent, very good, good, or, gulp, fair, we toured nearby businesses. After lunch, everyone traipsed into the auditorium where several of the more outgoing club members presented demonstrations or skits to entertain their captive audience. I was a butterfly, one with major stage fright, in the only skit I ever took part in.
Other than having stage fright, I did okay. No fairs for me. I was thrilled when I actually got a very good on my last project, a maroon cotton skirt.

The following September, I picked out a pretty plissé print for my new project, a housecoat. I cut out the pattern, but I just couldn’t get motivated to even work on the project, let alone finish it. My group leader didn’t offer much encouragement. By the end of October, I had slacked off on going to the meetings, much to the annoyance of my more ambitious fellow group members.

I told my mother I wanted to drop out of 4-H.  She was all for it. At that point, I guess Mom finally realized that sewing probably wasn’t going to be one of my talents. And, anyway, Mom said she was “done standing over me to get me to finish anything.”