Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Can a person will away FEAR?

I live on an old farm, in an old farmhouse, with old barns and creepy, old trees all around me. Even the rocks in our yard let their imaginations get away with them. Sometimes I catch them cowering under the nearest tree.

But seriously folks, it's scary! I don't care how brave you are, it's not easy to go outside at night, with two wimpy dogs who are no help at all. They either cower right along with me (I said they were wimpy!) and tuck their tails and skitter forward at every dead leaf cracking as it blows along the ground, or if they have their "I'm Brave" hat on, they act all tough and stare into the darkness. I think the second option is what spooks me the most because what on earth are they looking at?! Or who are they looking at? They're obviously looking at something. Sometimes it's a deer (or several deer), which to you, Reader, probably sounds benign. But just so we're clear: deer are colossally frightening. Get this: you don't actually see deer in the night time (ask anyone that's ever hit one with a car!). In addition to being invisible, on our farm the deer like to walk around our garden. And there are enough trees and shrubbery, and there is enough of a distance between our door and the edge of the garden, that you wouldn't be able to see an elephant, let along a magically invisible deer. Unfortunately, it's close enough that you can hear the halting, stealthy footsteps of their large bodies (presumably) sneaking through the darkness. Do deer carry axes or chainsaws? And, since it's not scary enough to hear the footsteps of something that you can't see, you can also hear them breathing. Remember in The Neverending Story when he realizes he's standing on the giant turtle? But the worst part of all when it comes to deer: if you startle them enough to make them run, they'll make an ungodly, almighty crashing sound on their way back to hell. Just try keeping your pants clean if that ever happens to you.

And the wind! Even if the deer aren't out, you can hear it moaning overhead. I'm not kidding--it moans. Remember in The Wizard of Oz when the monkeys were all flying overhead? Or perhaps it's more like The Golden Compass when all the witches came to their rescue at the Final Battle. No . . . I know what it sounds like: Constantine. When Rachel Weisz first sees The Dark Side, when she's out on the street with Keanu Reeves and all the streetlights go out. And they look up and see all the demons flying around. Remember that part? You can hear the whir of their bodies as they move through the air. And THAT'S what it sounds like at night when I'm walking the dogs: like there's a faction of demons flying over my head.

So, I watch too many movies. I realize this. But I can't un-do what I've seen, and they don't have to be scary to trigger something in my imagination that will freak me out! Prime example: The Golden Compass. It's not even a scary movie!! Nor is The Neverending Story. Most of the movies I think about actually are scary though. One of the most traumatic movies in my repertoire: The Mothman Prophesies. It's why I walk the dogs with my head down, refusing to look at the treeline. Haven't seen it? Don't. Not worth the subsequent lifetime of fear. It's the "based on a true story" that does it.

Remember Scream? That movie is more of a joke then anything else, and when watching it with a group of friends, I laugh right along with everyone else at its ridiculousness. But it's also why I can't look at our pool when I am outside at night, or in the basement after dark. Scream is why I try to keep the curtains drawn 24/7 in the basement. Not that the pool looks scary or bothers me during the daytime, but I don't want to risk walking down to the basement after dark and being able to look out the window at our pool. I'm just convinced I'll see someone standing next to it sometime.

The Sixth Sense. Remember when he finally starts confronting the ghosts and she takes him to her room to give him the video? He looks under the bed and she shoves the box at him. In theory, it's not even scary (because she's a "good ghost"), but the music!! Even knowing it's coming, even when I close my eyes . . . my heart still jumps in my throat.

Ghost: Dan's grandpa, Dan's grandma . . . how many others have died at the farm before his family came to live there? Do their ghosts walk around at night? When it's a full moon? On Halloween? Am I going to look out the window one night and see one standing by the barn? What was that shadow I just saw through the barn window?

Arachnophobia: who isn't freaked out by big bugs coming out of the woodwork (bugs that aren't just butt-ugly, but also blood-thirsty and smart)? Side note, the spiders from the movie look just like "wood spiders" which are the kind we have in our basement. I saw Bunny playing with one in my peripheral vision, and for a split second thought it was a mouse. Silly, I know, but in that split second of thinking it was a mouse I had an entire train of thought that went like this: if it's big enough that I can see it in my peripheral vision, it can't possibly be a bug.

Halloween: that damn white mask! I'm afraid I'm going to look out the window and see it peering back at me from the outside. I hate the fishbowl effect late at night! That's why we still have those woven wood blinds up in our living room.

What Lies Beneath: not only is someone watching you, but they're trying to contact you and tell you something. So remember that ghost I saw in the barn? Is it looking at me?!

At any rate, what would you DO in my situation? I know it's mostly my imagination, but bully on that and whoopty-freaking-doo because I'm still completely petrified. I want CONCRETE, proactive tasks to do. I already figured one out myself: just by coincidence (to save on electricity) we switched out our kitchen light for an automatic sensor light. But the bonus is that when I go to bed, I don't have to turn all the lights out. Hallelujah! What a relief being able to leave the kitchen light on (it turns itself off after 15 minutes if no one is in the room). That's Number One. Tick-mark next to that item on the list.

Unfortunately, I have a short list. Only one more item:

I searched through Google Images for things like "scaredy cat" and "brave cat" and came up with my own little collage of photos inspiring bravery. The text of it goes like this:
"Be brave, even if you don’t feel it! Even if something is out there, it’s probably not as bad as you think. In fact, it’s more afraid of you than you are of it. Be prepared. Put your game face on. Train hard. Stay smart. Study your opponent’s weaknesses. And even if it all seems hopeless, remember you’re stronger than you think. Everyone has their own trials and adversities they have to overcome, and some are worse than yours! So if it comes down to a fight, remember the element of surprise is a powerful force, and your enemy isn’t as strong as you are because you’ve trained, prepared . . . and become a black belt champion in Fierceness. And of course, the most important factor of all, make sure to remember: Good always triumphs over evil!" For basically each sentence, I have a hi-jacked photo that makes me smile when I see it. Like the "Be prepared" part: a picture of a kitten with a gun photoshopped in so he looks like a sniper. And "Study your opponent's weaknesses" with a picture of an ad for Pedigree weight control, with a fat dog stuck in a doggie door and a cat walking away after breaking off the stem of a daisy and sticking it in his butt. My Be Brave collage is hanging next to my bed. That was Number Two. Check.

So, now what? Any ideas? Help me add to my list!!!

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