Sunday, November 19, 2006

Even Rudolph Scares Me

I grew up on a farm with cows, horses, dogs, cats, and even the occasional pig and donkey. Remi and I learned the hard way that farm animals aren't pets. We once named three adorable little pigs "Cindy, Jan, and Marsha." Soon after the Brady Bunch girls were gone, my Dad was telling us to finish our bacon. You could say that was my first very unpleasant "a-ha" moment.

Farms involve manure to step in, hay bails with dead snakes inside, and electric fences. We had the most attractive wood fences that lined our farm. My Dad built them (I helped!) and Remi, my Mom and I painted them white. I can't vouch for what they look like now, but I used to like sitting on them, slathering them with paint. My other favorite things to do were sprinkle salt on slugs and watch them shrink, ride my horse Cocoa, and go to my Grandpa's to drink orange pop and throw apples near passing cars with my cousins. I suppose I was more mischievous than I looked, and not nearly as squeamish as I am now.

But that's what city living and watching years of 48-Hours Investigates shows about stalkers and murderers will do to a girl. After living in New York City and San Francisco the past eight years, with a small hiatus in Colorado, I am downright uncomfortable in the great wide open. I've left my city digs for a house that sits in trees and oleander. Blue Jays, squirrels and raccoons run around like I'm in their way. It's more unusual to see a jogger out here than it is to see deer running around at night. We usually see at least 2-4 every night.

Back on the farm, when the cows got loose, it was a big deal. But the deer are peaceful, awkward creatures. They are slow and frightened, it seems. No matter how carefully my car passes, I have this feeling that I am in their space, that I am forcing them out of the way, and that I shouldn't be there. This is why I don't understand hunting. I've shot at clay pigeons, my whole body shaking afterwards. Guns aren't for me. When I see a dead animal on the road, I feel really sad. And when I imagine that a hunter will photograph or stuff his conquest as a prize, I struggle to understand that. As wrong as this may sound to some, I rationally know that some people use animals as the source of nutrition. I'm not judging that. I just would like someone to explain the "sport" of hunting. It seems to me that most people who enjoy this also truly appreciate nature and the outdoors, so why wouldn't they strive to protect it's natural habitat?

While you contemplate that, I'll say that I'm a little more nervous out here than I was living in the city. In the city, I'm aware that there's people and things, cars and public transportation around me ALL the time. It's loud and busy. The homeless people are aggressive, but after you learn their name and their favorite sports team, even that gets less threatening. Out here, my place is surrounded by a huge wall of windows, a large open deck which unfolds into nothing but a blanket of trees. It's calming. But on the other hand, I'm always on guard. Someone could hide out or break in and no one would find me until later. My roommates are all in a separate wing of the house. (Wow-I'm really glad I'm detailing this for all you stalkers out there.)

Last night I was working on my applications to grad schools, and I heard footsteps. I'm serious. The lights to my study were on, which meant whatever was out there could see me. Don't laugh. I was freaked out. I called my roommate on my cell. I didn't want to move and like I said, we live in separate places. Renee said she'd come down and check it out. Once she got down there, we creaked open the door, and walked out slowly on the deck. I was serious and looking for anything or anyone to jump out at me. I was convinced that something was hiding out. Even the dog wasn't coming in right away. Maybe the intruder was feeding it meat like they do in cartoons? Who knows! I was freaked out!

Just then Renee decides to come up behind me and startle me by screaming. I had no idea she was even anywhere near me, so she scared the shit out of me! I started screaming bloody murder. I was sort of running around I think and holding my head, I can't remember! But then I heard her laughing, and I would have been mad, if I wasn't still scared.

I heard something that sounded like a person walking through gravel.

"Omigod! Did you hear that?" I said.

"No, dude," she said, still kind of laughing.

I don't know what was scarier, that I thought someone was in my backyard/forrest, or that in California, girls call girls "dude."

"I hear someone walking around! You know there's that rapist loose!" I said.

"Whatever, it's probably a deer," she said. "They come back here all the time."

We went inside and ate ice cream. Dreyers has a new Ice Cream Sandwich flavor, and it's genius. That night, I tried to sleep. I had two blankets and a comforter on top of me. When the trees sway they create shadows that I swear to God, look like people wandering around. This has created so much anxiety and insomnia, that I bought a night light at the dollar store last week. Plus I sometimes sleep under the covers. Yes, I know. I should not have said that.

But last night I felt sort of brave. I mean, so I've lived in the city for awhile, I'm still a farm girl! How bad could it be? Bring it! So...I turned off my little night light and knelt down next to my window. I peeked out, one eye open, fully expecting some sort of freakazoid woman-killer to appear. I looked down to the ground, and there, looking around, and then back at me, just as freaked out, a little fragile baby deer.

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