a paranoiac is someone in possession of the facts

Dear Uma: Pete went back to camp the day after we got back from Mexico, leaving me with a new twist to my solitude — I still have the cast on…

Dear Uma:

Pete went back to camp the day after we got back from Mexico, leaving me with a new twist to my solitude — I still have the cast on my arm.

Being one-armed with my partner was fun, his guilt about my injury making me feel entirely at peace with asking him to do things for me.

Well, do everything for me.

Being one-armed and alone is a nuisance; it restricts my diet to food that doesn’t need to be cut, my ensembles to clothes without buttons or zippers and a hairdo now needing no explanation.

Being less than able seems to have leaked into my subconscious, leaving me feeling vulnerable to the point that I find myself starting and trembling at any noises I can’t immediately identify, spending what used to be refreshing sleep hours wide awake and worrying.

I find I’m not just fretting about the mysterious sounds, but about absolutely everything. I worry that my arm won’t heal properly; when the cast comes off it’ll be shrunken and bent like a chicken wing.

I stew about an article I recently wrote that may bring repercussions from people who think transsexuals should be shot instead of written about.

Then, my concerns go global and my brain starts acting like a badly loaded washing machine.

Pete and I, while we were on holidays, watched two of the newer movies, Rendition and No Country for Old Men, back-to-back.

Neither could be called uplifting, nor were we left with feelings of pleasure or satisfaction. The only emotion I can think of to describe how we felt after this exhausting experience is fear.

The buzz on this year’s crop of movie hits is that they are not blockbuster movies, like Spiderman or Die Hard and their endless sequels and prequels, they are films; they are “thoughtful” and “realistic.”

Hollywood’s message these days is “Be afraid, be very afraid.” And it’s working.

The scary film of 2006, An Inconvenient Truth, taught us to be afraid of what’s happening to our environment.

This year we are shown we should be afraid of travelling outside our own country, especially by airline.

Crossing any border anywhere can be fraught with unforeseeable dangers leading to imprisonment, death; or massive inconveniences.

Even applying for a passport has been known to be risky; that petition you signed protesting nuclear waste in your area? Or the one declaring you wanted more information on the labels of foodstuffs?

They could come back to haunt you when someone decides such actions make you a potential terrorist.

Cops of any ilk are to be feared, as are soldiers who aren’t American (and even sometimes those who are).

Anyone in a uniform of any sort can’t be trusted; that UPS guy probably isn’t, or if he is the genuine article, is on the payroll of some nefarious organization.

Hockey uniforms are becoming scary; good thing the wearers are confined to arenas. The sight of someone in an NHL uniform anywhere else would strike fear into my heart after seeing some of the television footage of the players’ on-ice activities.

Political leaders are never a safe bet, but then we already knew that.

CEOs are suspect; the bigger the business the less likely they are to be honest, warm-hearted or caring about anything beyond making obscene amounts of money.

The heads of organizations like the CIA, FBI or the military are mostly power-hungry egomaniacs.

Hollywood has always helped enormously in making us fearful of people of colour; for the longest time black people were the scariest, especially the men.

Now Muslims are the scariest and seeing as how a Muslim can sometimes be difficult to identify, anyone not white will do. But wait! — there is the alarming profiling done by police specialists telling us most serial killers are white, as are a perilous number of Christians.

The Christians can give the Muslims a run for their money when it comes to truly terrifying beliefs.

Those horror stories in the Bible — Lot offering his young daughters to a gang of men in an effort to get them to stop beating on his door, for instance, or God punishing children for teasing a priest about his baldness — 42 kids torn to pieces by bears — that’ll teach ‘em!

Hollywood movers and shakers have also made it their business to teach us that there is no mercy, anywhere, and no haven.

Our homes are not immune; all our conversations can be listened to, our every move recorded on hidden cameras, and our doors smashed flat at any time of the day or night by policemen or SWAT teams who can then shoot the family pet or the family members.

If it’s not enough knowing the world is a place of constant menace and your home is not safe, now we have to look askance at our dear ones.

Children are not just shooting up their schools, they also have been known to murder Mom and Dad, and sometimes siblings. Grandparents have been targeted.

Why? Because you can’t know who or what your kid is becoming as they surf the web, taking drugs you’ve never heard of and combining it all with the rotten things you have done to them to create a monster.

And your partner in life, your mate, your true love? Not always what he or she seems.

It seems it would be a good idea, before making any commitment, to go a few steps further than an AIDS test or a bank statement.

Are you absolutely certain your husband/wife is who they claim to be?

How can you be sure this person you live with so intimately was not a hired assassin in a previous life?

A protected witness whose protection could run out?

A spy?

A member of a terrorist group?

You can’t be sure; they are too good an actor and you are too gullible.

I’m glad we watched movies while on vacation; the following days of sunshine and the good fellowship of our fellow tourists made the experience quickly grow dim.

Our trip home was long but uneventful.

It was only after Pete had gone back to camp that the images came flooding back, triggered by watching the late night news on television.

I rarely watch the news, finding the bits I read on the internet quite enough information on how the world is doing.

The news this night contained a special feature drawing attention to the fear of running out of food — worldwide.

We’ve already been made afraid of our provender, with all the recent recalls and warnings about poisoned goods, now we must worry about having nothing to eat.

I’ve heard of one group who will not be suffering from this disaster; the leader claims she hasn’t eaten in 15 years — she has learned to live on air.

I’ve been trying to find out more about this cult; information like this could soon mean the difference between life or death.

All this makes me glad to be living in Watson Lake.

Uniforms of any sort are scarce. I know there are RCMP members here; I’ve seen the vehicles, but I don’t think I have ever seen a Mountie outside of one.

The politicos are as invisible as the peacekeepers, and the hockey players seem to be a well-behaved group.

I have yet to hear of bomb scares or snipers or school shootouts.

Any violent events, and there have apparently been a few, seem to be confined to the individuals involved.

I have gone for late-night walks on my own and have never felt fearful of anyone I met.

Last summer, Pete and I encountered small groups of teens when we walked in Wye Lake Park; they were not in the least threatening.

During these long restless nights, however, I find myself dwelling on local scenes holding the potential for horror: the fellow whose yard is full of household appliances; each one could hold a body, or a part of one, and some of the stains around the doors of those old washers and freezers …

Someone once said, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” which depicts my current condition as well as giving an idea of how fatiguing it is.

This is one of those times when I’m grateful for a short attention span, and a nature optimistic and easily diverted; being afraid and paranoid is simply too much effort.

Which reminds me, have you ever heard of the Chevalier of the Brazen Serpent? It’s part of my next research project and holds promise of the needed diversion.

Wish me luck.



Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.