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My All-Time Favorite Book: Safe As The Grave

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When people ask me what my favorite book or movie is, I usually can’t rank one above all the others.

With movies, it is because the movies I watch vary greatly across several genres. And also, there isn’t one movie that I am absolutely gaga over. (TV shows fit more into my obsession tastes.) Would I say Jurassic Park or Sweet Home Alabama top the list? Sure. But if you stopped by last week, you will know that I finally decided on “Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael” as my all-time favorite movie.

With books, I could easily name my two favorite series of books: The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer and The Fearless series, by Francine Pascal. Out of those series, New Moon would be my favorite Twilight book (for the heart-aching way Bella tortures herself on the flight back to the United States from Italy, soaking up all the Edward time she can, knowing (thinking) he will abandon her again upon their arrival.). #19 Twins would be my favorite Fearless book. It contains the few heavenly minutes of afterglow following Gaia and Ed having sex, before the world starts to fall in on them again.

But, my favorite stand alone book has probably been the same since 2nd grade. I am not ashamed (OK, maybe a little) to tell you that my favorite book is Safe As The Grave by Caroline B. Cooney, a Weekly Reader book, published in 1979. It was given to me by my second grade teacher, Mrs. Raines*. (A lovely woman who still recognizes me when I see her.) She picked out a different book for each student in the class. I like to think that she tried to suit them to our individual personalities. Safe As The Grave definitely has kept my interest all these years.

Safe As The Grave by Caroline B. Cooney, Weekly Reader Books, copyright 1979

Safe As The Grave by Caroline B. Cooney, Weekly Reader Books, copyright 1979

It is a mystery (I HAVE always been fond of Scooby Doo) centering around two 11 year old twin sisters, a missing bejeweled church cross, a dead ancestor, and lots of poison ivy. It is a quick read at only 48 pages.

What does it say about me that I want to be a writer, and my favorite book is only 48 pages long?

[I think it says that I like a story that is very succinct, to the point.  That is also my writing style.]

But it also has pictures! I think the pictures add to the story. I love the blue of the cover. I loved that the main character’s name is Lynn. I love that name, mostly because I always wished Lynn was my middle name. Instead, my mom had to go off and be all original (FYI–I hate my middle name. And no, I am NOT going to tell you what it is!). I think I loved reading about the sisters interactions and bickering because I was an only child. Everything I learned about twin sister relationships I learned from Safe As The Grave and Sweet Valley High books. Any time I had an imaginary family when I was a child, it would have lots of siblings.

“Lynn, who was grubby and didn’t have on matching socks…” p.15

I also loved Lynn’s curious nature. Which, I did not particularly have at that age. Her instinct was to NOT DO as she was told. But I could experience that vicariously through her.

That is what reading is all about!

I also liked that it took place in a (family) cemetery. Because my dad died before I was born, I spent more time than the average kid riding in the car through the cemetery. Probably like five times a week my mom would drive us through. I wonder now if she did that so that he would be in my life in some way. Or maybe she just missed him. Or maybe she just wished she had some backup for raising a kid all by herself. (She has always said that if my dad had lived, they would have gotten divorced anyway. Talk about crushing a small child’s impossible dreams! I told you she was negative!)

I love the morale of the story, that a young girl can solve a mystery that no one else in town has been able to solve in 100 years. It illustrates that kids can come up with original ideas that maybe adults would never thing of, because they haven’t lost the ability to tap into their full imagination, which seems to happen at puberty.

Hey, that reminds me of another movie I like which illustrates the same principle, “Radio Flyer”. Wait. Maybe it isn’t appropriate to say that a movie featuring gratuitous child abuse is one of my favorites. OK, I like everything about that movie except the child abuse. And the bullying.

* CHARMING TIDBIT ABOUT DEAR MRS. RAINES: She never fills up her gas tank before it gets to E, and usually only 20 miles after that. I learned that working at the local gas station 😉

Thank you for the book, Mrs. Raines.  I just reread it today.  And, it is so short, I could reread it again!

Dreams – Part Two (Adventures in Dreamland)

To read about the evolution of my dream journal, please read Dreams – Part One (Dream Journal) https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2012/11/01/dreams-part-one-dream-journal/

When I dream about home, I most often dream about the trailer I lived in between the ages of 8 and 23.  The other night I even dreamed that my son was there, which is really weird because that place is long gone.  My son has never been there.  He wasn’t even a glimmer in my eye last time I was there.

This where i am when I dream of home. The saddest picture ever. I came of age in that home, and then it was just pulled out to the curb to be sold for best offer.


I also dreamed I had to grab my son and hide with him under the bathroom sink in the half (more the size of a quarter) bath because mobsters were coming to shoot us.  (The whole time, I kept thinking in the dream, “Was there really enough room for me to hide under that sink?”)  When I woke up, I was scared of the mobsters with guns blazing, of course, but not surprised.  I have dreams of people with guns chasing me every so often.

Illustration from my dream journal about my recurring wrist dream.


The first dream I can ever remember having was also one of the few recurring dreams I have ever had.   That was when I was really young – 4 or 5.  In my dream I was wearing my blue hooded sweatshirt and running away from bad guy sin a big grey factory.  There were big tanks and all sorts of walkways from the ceiling.  The bad guys saw me and shot me. I help up my wrist and there was just a hole through it with black sides.  No blood, not a realistic wound.  I could look right through the hole in my wrist at the bad guys. 

What terrible person would chase this girl through a scary factory and shoot her through the wrist?


Here it is in poem form:

The recurring dream

On a night i no longer remember
i got tucked into bed
covered up my head
and my mind turned on me

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

my blue-hooded jacket
among all the metal
the metal that passed right through me
without me noticing

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

fast-moving among the rafters
their steps echoing on the catwalk
thump-thump-thump
like my little heart

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

ducking behind the giant tanks
doesn’t matter what is in them
maybe it is the blood
that doesn’t flow from me

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i can’t see their identities
just dark forms ever-moving
why don’t i stop & face them
the faceless

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i’m scared, it’s dark
i run
but it’s all familiar
deep down
it is all a part of me

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i’ve got you now
but you can’t protect me
from what only the night can see

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i still can’t see
who i was meant to
grow up & be
this life is just a blur to me
as i run

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i have a good life
but it is hard to see
looking through this blackened
hole in me

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

with roots like these
i can’t leave
but still I try to shake free
imagine it all some other way

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

i want what i don’t have
i don’t have all that I want
i’ll never be satisfied
with this empty hole

they are after me again
gun in hand
faster still i run
till this hole in my wrist is done

it’s eating away at me
still i run further
i can see them chasing me
always chasing me
my most vivid unreal memory
–JLS 05/11/06

I guess maybe that symbolizes my anxieties that I can run, but not hide from.  They continue to pursue me.

I heard a kid in school onetime say that his mother had told him that if you dream the same dream three nights in a row, it will come true.

Shortly after I heard this, I had two dreams about my dad in about four night’s time.  I was so terrified I would have the third dream and it would come true that I couldn’t sleep for several nights.  The third dream never came.

The first dream, if I can remember, was my dad came back and we were talking in the kitchen.  (My dad died before I was born.) He thought I should be happy to see him, but I was really mad.  I was yelling at him that, “It was wrong you weren’t here all those years.  I had to grow up without a dad.  Do you know how terrible that is?  You want me to just forgive you?”

But in the second dream, he wanted to take me away with him and I was no longer angry.  I was asking him questions and was really curious.  I never did give him an answer in that dream.  After I woke up, I was afraid if I had another dream that I would say “yes” and I would die in my sleep in order to go with him.  It scared me very much.

I dream about tornadoes every so often.  The dreams reflect my real life feelings about them.  I am scared to death, but also very fascinated by them.  The thought of a tornado coming for me is terrifying (This time, its personal?).  Yet, the thrill of a tornado warning trip to the basement or watching a storm chaser show on TV is exciting.  (Once my husband and I drove through an area that had been hit by a tornado two weeks earlier.  Not a pretty site.  So devastating.  I couldn’t even bring myself to take pictures.)

I am out of the habit of writing down my dreams nowadays, but this dreams was very “powerful” and, once you read it you will see that it just begs to be included in a blog post. I have used it to show the format for which I record my dreams. (Click the picture to enlarge.)

As I come to the end of this post, I am torn.  Do I go back to a dream journal as a means of greater understanding of self?  Or do I face the fact that I am adult with too many other responsibilities in my life right now?

Hmmm…Maybe I will sleep on it.

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