Spending Time

Another week gone by.  The weather changed from highs in the 80’s to highs in the 50‘s.  What is most shocking about the change in the weather is the sudden awareness of the passage of time.  This never fails to surprise me:  “What?  Is it really late enough in the year for frost???”

Every year goes faster.  This is an inevitable effect of aging–the older I get, the smaller the portion of my life a day represents.  The perception of time is relative.  Ironically, the more I want to slow the clock down, the more it speeds up.

Time has become my most cherished commodity.  There is so much to do and so little time in which to get it done.  I have come to long for sleep with the same nostalgia I once longed for Christmas–it always seems far off and then disappointing when it’s over.

In choosing to spend more time on enjoyment, I have seem to amassing a time deficit.  Even when having a great time, I wish for long nights of solid sleep and slower days with less to do–is it possible to just enjoy without wishing for something more?

I seem to vacillate between exhaustion and hyperactivity.  Exhaustion leads to periods of time of keeping to myself, not socializing, not taking on extra activities.  Boredom and frustration sends me back into hyperactivity.  Doesn’t it seem like by now I should know how to strike a happy medium?

Of all the things I have going on right now, most of them are fun.  Other than our dog who has horrible allergies that keep him scratching and licking himself all night, disturbing our sleep, I only have my usual complaint, which is work.

I’m staying up late Friday and Saturday nights volunteering for the Acres of Darkness haunt.  It’s so much fun, I can’t complain about that.  I’m also having a ball preparing to teach my first photography workshop.  No complaints about that time spent.

Work is work.  It’s hard to let go–it haunts my dreams far more than the ghouls and zombies found along the trail at Acres of Darkness.

I gave up on keeping up on my other blog this week, opting to skip many days of posts on snapgreatphotos.com in favor of getting to bed before midnight.

Social engagements and early morning yoga on Friday’s are really the only other things occupying my time.  These are energizing and balancing activities for me–they keep me centered.

So, what do I give up?  The things I love doing?  The things I do to pay for the things I love doing?  Or sleep?  I am reminded of a quote from Carl Sandburg:

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

How do I decide if I’m spending my coins or someone else is?

Fear of Fear

*Photos from 2012 Acres of Darkness

I have spent the past two evenings hiding in the woods trying to get pictures of terrified people in complete darkness.  Darkness is a funny thing.  We talk about it like it’s a bad thing.  Analogies about being in darkness and being brought into the light start with the notion that we hide in darkness and we are seen in the light.  After all, there is nothing inherently bad in darkness–it just makes it harder to see.

But why is darkness required to make something scary in the first place?  If we had the night-vision of owls or the sonar of bats, would we find the dark so frightening?  Is it only because darkness provides a “cover” for what frightens us by tucking it away where our human eyes can’t penetrate that we’re so startled when someone jumps out from behind a tree and says “boo!”?

Recently, I walked through the living room while thinking about something intently.  I passed my husband, who claims I looked right at him.  I went into the kitchen, poured myself a glass of water and then turned around to discover him standing behind me.  I screamed and threw up my hands, throwing water all over the kitchen.

I believe this incident proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that darkness is not a requirement for fear.  Rather, our history as a species dependent on detecting threats and potential meals largely based on the detection of movement causes us to be largely rational people who suddenly jump out of their skin if they failed to detect there was something present that might move.

Interestingly, expecting someone to jump out at you can actually serve to make it more scary when they oblige.  I frequently startle during movies and TV shows when suspense is climbing and then the bad guy suddenly jumps out at the hero(ine).  This startles me so much that my husband has taken the tactic of forewarning me.

Warning me seems to have quite the opposite effect.  The expectation that someone is about to jump out only increases the feeling of suspense and anxiety, making me jump even higher than I would have with no warning.

What is that mechanism?  At the haunt I’ve been volunteering at, we had two young girls who went through our haunted trail with a young man who was apparently one of the girl’s boyfriend.  He was walking ahead of the girls asking the actors not to scare her because she was really upset.  We found out later she’s actually got sick earlier on the trail because she was scared so badly.

I found myself puzzled as to what is the difference between a girl who gets physically ill from the fear of a staged scene in the woods while another person of the same age and experience may walk the same trail laughing at all our attempts to scare her/him.

Like so many things, fear is, in fact, all in our minds.

Jelly Bellies

Last Saturday, I ran errands–one of my least favorite activities.  I had a plan.  I needed to go to MacAuthority to get my broken iPhone replaced.  It’s on the other side of town, so I decided to go to the Target out there.

Target is a dangerous place for me–they carry 2 pound bags of Jelly Bellies.  I love Jelly Bellies.  I eat one piece at a time.  Each piece releases intense flavor that requires some thought to determine what it is.  One bite might be buttered popcorn.  The next might be toasted marshmallow.  Every once in a while, you get a less pleasant surprise in the form of coconut.  But then you go to the next one and it’s something like cafe-au-lait and it wipes away the less favorite flavor that proceeded it.  It’s just fun.

After collecting the list of things I could find, I wandered around the store looking for x-acto knife blades for my husband.  I checked the school supplies, the scrapbooking supplies, the hardware section.  No luck.  I got out my broken iPhone and risked getting glass shards in my finger tips to search on Target’s website.  Target doesn’t carry x-acto knife blades.

I headed to the cash register, put my collection of stuff on the belt, opened my purse, and discovered that while I had Tisen’s vet records, notes from a meeting, a USB drive, 2 gum wrappers, 3 lip glosses, a set of keys I didn’t recognize, and a pair of pliers in my purse, I did not have my wallet.

I made the 20 minute drive back home to get my wallet, getting lost only twice.  I made it straight back to the store and paid for my stuff.  Unfortunately, one bag of my stuff had erroneously been returned to the shelves.  So, I got to go shop a second time for the missing items.  How I hate to shop.

When I got to the car, I immediately opened the Jelly Bellies and set them on the center console for easy access.

The first turn sent my bag of Jelly Bellies flopping backwards, dumping a handful of joy into the back of the mini-van.  I repositioned the bag, cursing under my breath.  The next turn sent my Jelly Bellies forward, dumping another big handful in the front of the car, where they promptly rolled under my feet.  I kicked them out of the way with a grunt.

MacAuthority didn’t have a replacement phone in stock.

I returned to the car and decided I should pick up the Jelly Bellies before returning home.  There’s nothing I hate worse the wasting a good Jelly Belly.  I blew the dog hair off them and decided germs are a great way to build the immune system.

As I munched on my tainted Jelly Bellies, my frustration melted away as Very Cherry exploded in my mouth.  Were it not for Jelly Bellies, it would have been my head exploding.


Right now, a group of us at the Chattanooga Audubon Society are planning a Halloween haunt called “Acres of Darkness.”  For 4 nights, a ¼ mile trail will be haunted with all kinds of terrors to raise money for the organization.

Last year I did some shooting at the event, but I wasn’t involved in planning it.  This year, the planning committee asked me if I would help after we completed the Birdathon event in April.  How could I resist?

I love Halloween.  You can try out an alter-ego, eat endless amounts of candy, and experience whatever level of terror you’re comfortable with.  It’s just fun.

Saturday morning, I went out to setup one of the stations on the haunted trail.  I realized several things about myself.  First, although I have worked on things from setting up campsites to roofing to changing the oil in my car to repairing garbage disposals, I have never done them alone.

When we decided to each take a station and be responsible for setting it up, I experienced sudden panic.  I realized these are the kinds of jobs where, if pointed in the right direction, I can be helpful, but I’m not adept at deciding what needs to be done.

It was a strange sensation.  Most things I do, I am perfectly able and willing to decide how to go about doing them.  I am not shy about telling other people what to do, either.  Yet, when faced with the simple problem of how to hang some tarps and other props, I found myself at a loss.

Fortunately for me, a far more experienced person was there when I arrived who was willing to help me.  I walked out to the site ahead of him, having been told that everything we needed was already at the site.  There was one, long, yellow nylon rope, two large tarps, and a length of misting hose.

This is when I (re)discovered a second thing about myself:  I really only know how to tie one knot.  That’s the knot I use to tie my shoes.  I learned it from a book of knots my nephew got when he was about 10.  It prevents your shoelaces from untying, but you can still pull out the knot with one pull.  It’s a great knot for shoes; not so great for tarp hanging.

In spite of my years in the Camp Fire Girls, even a basic square knot comes out a tangled mess.  This made me feel especially grateful for the Eagle Scout and long-time Scout Master who was helping me.  I would still be there trying to tie up that tarp if he hadn’t been there.

While I was there, I did a little shooting of a River Rescue volunteer crew picking up trash in the creek that runs through Audubon Acres.  I got to wade through the creek, see a Belted Kingfisher, and hear a Red-shouldered Hawk.  Great start to a Saturday morning!