Seven reasons to love Lexie Grey

I’ve been bingeing on old Grey’s Anatomy seasons this summer because I miss Lexie Grey.

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To my great fury and disappointment, she died in the season 8 plane crash and things at Seattle Grace turned Seattle Grace-Mercy West turned Grey Sloan Memorial have never been the same. It might be weird to miss a fictional character, but here’s my tribute to the delight that is/was Lexie Grey, in seven fantastical bullets, some more superficial than others:

1. Eidetic memory
Find something cooler than an eidetic memory, I dare you. Imagine how much cooler you would be if you could remember literally every thing that you have ever looked at, read, or heard? Phenomenal. (To be fair, Grey’s portrays Lexie’s eidetic memory as a photographic memory, and strictly speaking they’re not the same thing, but it’s still amazing)

2. Great taste in men
Sloan. Karev. Avery. No explanation required.

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3. Loyalty to a broken dad
 I could make a pretty long list of reasons not to love Thatcher Grey, but Lexie loves him anyway. She tries to protect him from his own drunken rages, and keeps forgiving him for his many mistakes. She even tries to donate a kidney when he needs one. There’s something to be said for a daughter who can forego enabling and judgment of an alcoholic dad, and just love him anyway, faults and all.  She rises above.

4. Roots for the underdog
Lexie is a champion of the underdog. She fell for George O’Malley when he was repeating his intern year, for goodness’ sake. She pumped him up and supported him and got him through. And she stole cadavers to create a creepy interns-only lab in the basement of the hospital to try to get some education for herself and the other interns who were dehumanized by Yang et al. (“I’ll call you #3)

5. Bold hair choices
Lexie was often sporting creative braids, sometimes wearing serious bangs, and generally rocking some kick-ass brunette locks. And then she went blonde for a while. It takes a rock star, I tell ya.

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6. Word vomit
One of the things I find most endearing about lovely Lexie Grey is her propensity for word vomit. She’s not necessarily awesome at giving voice to her feelings, but when the situation demands it, when she’s most overcome by emotion, it comes spilling out in a hurried and breathless expression and it’s a delight to behold. I love owning your feelings, even if only by blurting.

7. Owns her stupid mistakes
The cadaver lab turned into a very poorly conceived appendectomy on a fellow intern. And she owned up. She always owns up and takes her lumps. She can admit defeat or poor decision making, but she rarely apologizes for her reasons, and I think that takes a rock star too.

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Ostracism in a paper cup

You can pretty much find a peer group for anything these days. Almost everything you can think of has a culture of its own. Some have been around so long they’re cliche or archetypal – tattoos, motorbikes, smokers, band geeks… you get the idea. The one that blows my mind the most is coffee.

I’m a coffee dissenter, let’s just get that out of the way up front. I don’t like the smell of it, the taste of it, and especially the culture of it. It’s quite bizarre to me that a beverage has somehow spawned a lifestyle. A beverage that is, let’s face it, hot bean water. A beverage that you can make at home for literally pennies a cup has somehow turned itself into a status symbol, having convinced folks that it’s entirely reasonable to spend $6 on one paper cup of joe. I don’t get it.

My coffee hating has amazing benefits. When I wake up, I just wake up and get to it, never feeling that I’m some sort of creature from the underworld prior to ingesting some steaming bean juice. I don’t get the shakes in the early afternoon because I don’t jones for caffeine. I never have problems sleeping because I didn’t time my last beverage appropriately. And, I never have that awful, coffee breath reek to which some are prone.

My coffee hating has detriments too. In this coffee culture world, I’m a freak. People give me the strangest looks when they offer me a cuppa that I flat out refuse. “No thanks, I don’t drink coffee” is nearly always followed by “Really? How?” or the perennial favourite “Ok, a tea then?” I have seen minds blown when that query elicits the “No, I don’t drink tea either” response. People can’t cope with my cold beverages only philosophy.

It’s a matter of social ostracism to be a coffee dodger. I’ve never uttered the phrase “let’s go for coffee”, or made a coffee run, nor am I ever able to commiserate with tales of the morning drive-thru line. It makes people uncomfortable when I’m the only person at the table not drinking, though for the life of me I can’t understand why.

I have a vivid and distinct memory of deciding when I was 8 or 9 years old that I never wanted to be a grown-up who wakes up in the morning and says “I need my coffee.” I spent a lot of time in hockey rinks as a kid and marvelled over the amount of coffee ingested by adults, and their confusing need to discuss their coffee habits with one another. My coffee boycott is perhaps the greatest example of my boundless stubbornness. I don’t drink it because I said I wasn’t going to, and I like sticking to my guns, however hard it may sometimes be to stick to eight-year-old guns in your early thirties. That’s commitment. That’s dedication. That’s stubbornness that defies comprehension.

Maybe the root of that stubbornness is really a resistance against growing up. If coffee was the culture of the adult, if I keep refusing then I’ll never have to be one, right? If I keep insisting that I don’t need a stimulant to rouse my weary self from sleep then I’m not old, if the only hot bevvy of which I ever partake is a hot chocolate on a really cold day, it stands to reason that I’ve held onto some small part of childhood that keeps me from being a stressed-out, cynical, over-worked adult. Right? Being on the outskirts of coffee culture keeps my inner child alive, and I think that’s something worth stubbornly protecting.

I’ll stick to a good glass of water, a toast to my eight-year-old self who’d be proud I never left her behind.

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The trouble with being a thirtysomething Catholic

I like routines. I’ve been known to joke about having some mild obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and ritual and routine work well for a person like me. I thrive on the known and the expected; it has taken real work to become more adaptable, more able to roll with the punches and jabs and body slams of life.

This aptitude for repetition made me an easy mark for Catholicism (that, ancestry, baptism, and Catholic education, but still…). I like mass, always have. I like the solemnity of occasion and the chance to reflect. This is not to say that I’ve always been the best or most practicing Catholic, but just to point out that there are things about the religion that speak to me and in which I take comfort.

The trouble with being a thirtysomething Catholic in 2014 is that it’s becoming easier to separate faith and religion, and harder to connect my faith with my religion. Let me sum it up this way: I believe in God and creation and heaven because I want to. I also believe in evolution and science because I want to, and contradictory or not, I don’t have any trouble allowing a creation story and an evolutionary history to co-exist in my consciousness. But I do have trouble trying to reconcile Catholic dogma with a loving God.

Robin Williams passed away a few days ago from an apparent depression-induced suicide. There has been lots of talk about his passing, the stigma of mental illness, and signs of suicidal tendencies in the news and on everyone’s lips. Someone told me today that they think it’s ridiculous that some news report said he was in heaven now, because you can’t go to heaven if you commit suicide. This caused a deep unsettling in me. A stirring up of emotional sediment that I’ve worked hard to tamp down over the last decade.

Suicide is a touchy subject for me. It stuns me that we continue to heap judgment and shame upon those who commit suicide, as though their acts are devoid of thought or consideration. Sure, it’s easy to consider suicide an act of selfishness, but just because an opinion is easy doesn’t mean it’s accurate or the only viable opinion out there. Suicide is, as is any death, a tragedy. A death, no matter how it comes about, is a loss and is deserving of compassion and grief.

And therein lies the rub. Catholic dogma tells me that suicide is a sin and that your soul shall float for all eternity in purgatory as punishment. But my mind, heart, and faith in a loving God don’t believe that can be true. I don’t believe that the outcome of any bad choice is denied entry to heaven. I’m not sure I believe in purgatory or hell at all, they’re so inconsistent with everything else the Church has taught me about love and forgiveness. This is the trouble with being a thirtysomething Catholic: enough life experience to see the inconsistencies between dogma and faith.

I choose to be a selective Catholic. I take the parts that make sense to me, and the teachings that resound in my heart, and I make a go at living my life in a way that’s consistent with those principles and trying to be a good person. I leave aside the parts that don’t work for me: eating fish on Fridays and condemning people to eternal damnation, for example. It works better for me. Some would probably say that such selectivism is non-faith; I choose to believe otherwise, and I guess we’ll all find out in our own time whether any of us was right or wrong.

Suicide is a tragic choice made by people who don’t believe they have any choices left. It’s heartbreaking and gut-wrenching and maddening for those left behind to try to dissect a choice that we will never truly understand, because it’s as personal as a fingerprint. We will never know what it meant to be that person, to live in their skin and in their mind, and we’ll never know what, if anything, could have been done differently to create another outcome. But we can choose to refrain from judgment. We can choose to respect the pain and grief of those who cope with the aftermath by silencing our dogmatic thoughts. We can choose compassion instead.

The solace of the stone

I just watched an episode of Who Do You Think You Are, a great little show about celebrities tracing their ancestry. It’s not about the celebrity, it’s about their ancestors: often infamous or entirely un-famous people who were history-makers, survivors, newsmakers, or otherwise heroic and interesting characters in their own right. I have learned more about American history from this show than I ever did in school (probably unsurprising for a Canadian-educated gal).

The thing that most draws me to the show, the thing that I most connect to, is the sense of grief and loss experienced by each seeker. Inevitably, the ancestor whom they have researched and traced and furtively followed through the pages and records of time meets their demise (timely or otherwise) and the seeker finds themselves saddened anew by the loss of a relative they have never known. Grief, it seems, cuts across generations and centuries. It matters not when grief find you, you experience it all the same.

Tonight’s episode ended as many do, with the seeker finding the gravesite of their ancestor. Today’s celeb touched and held the stone of her 3x great grandmother, as many do. This is something I do that I’ve never given much thought to before, but watching others enact that same loving, grieving behaviour gave me pause to reflect.

There is solace in the stone.

That’s why we touch it, why tracing your fingers over the crevices of your own ancestor’s name gives you comfort. There is something soothing about a tangible object to which your grief can be downloaded. It’s a laying of hands – a transference of emotion of cathartic quality.

I’m no stranger to cemeteries. My grandfather was buried in my hometown when I was 2 years old, and I have been visiting his grave regularly for as long as I can remember. I’ve never found cemeteries to be scary or strange or even woeful, I’ve always found them to be peaceful, serene, and a place of solace. At each of my very worst moments in life, I have gone to my grandfather’s grave and asked him to help me. And before I leave, I touch his headstone and solace is mine. It is perhaps a curious ritual, but one that grew organically from my long-held need for connection to my past and to the man I’ve always wished to know. It was the only way to know him, the only touch we’d ever share, the only place to be close to him.

My other grandfather passed away when I was 17. He lived and died in Scotland, and when I returned there for the first time since his passing when I was 20, I desperately wanted to visit his grave. Alas, he does not have one. His ashes were scattered in Pease Bay and I would never begrudge him or my grandmother the final resting place they found most fitting for him, but it saddened me deeply that with his passing he vanished so completely from the world. Grieving for him has no physical outlet, there is nowhere to transfer the sadness. Grieving for him is an entirely cerebral affair, and one’s own consciousness is not always the best place to seek solace. So instead, when I miss him I look at his photographs and I pull memories of our times together. It is a quiet and gentle remembrance and grief, befitting his character. I still wish he was somewhere in stone, to lay my hand upon, to seek the solace that can sometimes only be found at the cemetery.

RIP to RL and SLS, who are never forgotten, ashes to stone.

Knit one, pearl two; I can’t sew, can you?

I was doing some closet maintenance the other day. The kind where you purge old items to make room for new ones, and cut off tags and toss deformed hangers that no longer serve their purpose. And, if I’m to be honest about my latent OCD tendencies, the kind of maintenance that is performed primarily to get all the hangers facing the same way again.

My tidying in the closet spurred me on to the reorganizing of my bedside drawers. Here I found a few small plastic pouches containing a button or a small length of thread; little bonuses that I’d snipped off previously new clothing and tossed in the drawer instead of putting them in their rightful place in the linen closet. On OCD days, this simply cannot be tolerated and so I marched the errant buttons and thread off to the hallway to my “sewing box” where I had an existential thought that I now share with you.

My “sewing box” is so lame that it requires quotation marks. No self-respecting sewing box would put itself in the same category as mine. My box is not a box at all but a sad combination of a couple of hotel sewing kits, a dollar-store variety small plastic box with cheap thread and blunt needles, all tossed into a Ziploc bag with a haphazard assortment of buttons and a few needles and spools I’m certain I inherited from my mother when I went away to school more than a decade ago. This is no sewing box. This is an embarrassment.

Enter existential thought: am I of a generation that can no longer sew, knit, or crochet? Are these domestic skills and handicraft talents of a world gone by? I am trying to picture a 17 year old putting down their smartphone to instead pick up a pair of knitting needles, or even mute YouTube to concentrate on placing a few stitches to repair a tear in a favourite piece of clothing. I can’t see it. Maybe this is partly because I’m of a certain age where I no longer know any teenagers and am just out of touch enough that I can’t tell if my perception is accurate. But maybe it’s because I’m right.

I come from good knitting and sewing stock. My granny tried to teach me to knit and cross-stitch more times than I can tell you and I never managed more than a few weak knots or a quarter of a teeny-tiny cross-stitch pattern before giving up. My granny could make anything you wanted out of yarn. Anything. Portraits of Indian chiefs, baby blankets, clothes for Barbies, never-gonna-be-cold-again-crocheted-sweaters, Scottish bagpiper dolls, and scarves and hats and mitts. She sorta couldn’t exist without a knitting bag at her side and needles in hand. My mom is a phenomenal cross-stitcher, having adorned our childhood home with her various creations, and has knitted her own tidy sum of blankets over the years. And my father does all the sewing. For nearly as long as I can remember, my dad proudly cherished his role as the family repair-person, fixing everything from broken lightbulbs to holey socks. He comes by it honestly as well, his mother being a genius in her own right with a sewing machine, but his frugal nature likely claims as much responsibility. Why buy new socks when he can sew them back together? Why replace a faded purple jacket he’s been wearing since the early ’90’s when he can continue to sew new cuffs onto it instead?

Maybe that’s the big difference between their generation and mine, and mine and the next: increased tolerance for waste. Maybe every generation of our consumerist culture wastes more than the last and sees less and less value in repairing things than simply replacing them. When I was a kid, we had a serious sewing box in the laundry room. An epic, weighty case with trays and spaces for yarn, spools of thread, knitting needles, sewing needles, measuring tape, dress-maker’s pins, velcro, and thimbles. Thimbles!!! Does anyone on the short side of 20 even know what a thimble is anymore?

My sad little linen closet collection of bits and bobs for repairs I barely know how to complete makes a mockery of my strong sewing lineage. My parents surely can’t be proud of my non-prowess with a needle, but they can be perhaps mildly comforted to know that I can indeed stitch a garment hole, provided it’s torn on the seam. Anything more than that is simply beyond my ability, and sends me for a visit home to hand off to the masters of sew themselves.

Watch TED, feel smarter.

Let’s tackle this head on: I haven’t written in nearly a year.  There are lots of reasons but they’re not important, the fact is, I haven’t been writing here because I’ve been writing academic papers and I haven’t allowed/allotted myself the time to write for a creative outlet.  I’m trying to make more time for the things that I love, so here I am again.

One of the 30 things I set out to do in my 30th year (the reason this blog got started at all) was to watch more TED Talks.  I wasn’t great at accomplishing that – probably because I didn’t give it an empirical enough target.  And clearly because I’m also terrible at resolutions no matter what other words I use to dress them up – I can’t keep promises to myself.  I watched 20 or so TEDs voraciously when I first hit the big 3-0 and since then I’ve let the pace dwindle fantastically.  I failed to set myself up for success by failing to allow the internet to do what it does best: harass me by email daily.

I recently enabled my TED account to email me a talk daily and my commitment has now become, instead of the generic, easily avoidable “watch more TED talks,” the much more measurable “watch a TED talk every day.”  Thank you, opt-in e-mail subscriptions, for making me smarter.

The incredible thing about TED, if you’ve never watched, is that there is a TED talk about nearly any topic you could possibly be interested in, and every one of them is given by an expert or innovator or captivating speaker from the field.  And generally, they’re short.  10 minutes or less.  I can get on board with spending 10 minutes or less a day to feel smarter.

Am I getting smarter?  Hard to say.  I’m accumulating more knowledge, most of which I’ll likely never use in any real way, but I feel like I’m constantly learning and my little brain is continuing to evolve and make new neural pathways and grow new dendrites and synapses and neurotransmitters and other brain-anatomy words from Intro to Psychology that I’m trying to remember (fire neurons, fire!).

In the past week on TED I learned about shark-deterrent wetsuits, the need for education revolution rather than evolution or reform, getting back to work after writing a literary bomb, how the ‘near win’ serves us more than success, and that “typeface-ist” is a career option and if you choose it, you can spend 20 minutes talking to the world about creating fonts for the digital vs print media.

Without TED, I wouldn’t know any of this and wouldn’t feel smarter.  TED is about spreading good ideas.  It’s about inspiration.  It’s about exciting people about learning, even if they never have a practical application for the knowledge that sharks see in grayscale.  I love TED for its accessibility and the wondrous roster of things that you can learn in 10 minutes or less per day.

Watch TED, feel smarter.

A love letter to language

I love words.

Words are incredibly capable of expressing feelings that so often seem just beyond articulation.
I believe that trying to write a feeling gives a form to the emotions with which we struggle. Giving it a word gives that feeling a form, a shape you can hold onto. I think we need our feelings to take a shape so we have a way to grasp them until we’re ready to let them go.

Feeling is the hardest job of humanity. Our most natural impulse and our greatest folly. Emotions can be so overwhelming, so all-consuming, that knowing what to do with them, how to wrestle them down, how to break them into pieces you can handle, is a battle we will wage forever. Learning how to let go of those pieces, and sometimes knowing when to just put them down and surrender for a while, is an invaluable skill. If you’ve mastered it, let me know how you got there. I’ll be working on laying them down and setting them free until my very last moment.

In the interim, writing helps. Words, carefully considered and ordered, give voice to what Rocky Balboa called the “stuff in the basement” – the thoughts in your core, the feelings at the root of you. I think this is why it’s so challenging to find their shape. They’re so much a part of you, it’s hard to find language to make them distinct, to unravel them from your being, to peel yourself back layer by layer and name all your component parts. Because it’s tough to think of ourselves as the sum of our pieces, it’s so much more comfortable to conceive of ourselves as palaces, albeit with stuff in the basement.

If I’ve chosen the right words, that all just made sense.

If I haven’t, that’s my fault, not the fault of the words. Because words are powerful and meaningful when we give them context, that’s why I love them so much. They are the greatest tools in my palace, tinkering and working at all that junk in the basement, so that one day, I’ll be able to clear it out.

I’ve read thousands of examples of vividly crafted depictions of thoughts and feelings that perfectly demonstrate the power of words to illuminate the indescribable. The most recent sample I’ve come across (the one that prompted this post because I just couldn’t keep it to myself) is from a semi-biographical novel called “Say Her Name” by Francisco Goldman.

Goldman fell deeply in love with a woman named Aura Estrada, whom he married and devastatingly lost in a tragic ocean swimming accident in Mexico just 4 years after they met. A writer by trade, Goldman wove a novel about his adored wife, their time together, and their shared loss of love. While I don’t know yet how much of the novel was truth and how much was fiction, the portrait of Aura and their marriage is viscerally real, and achingly touching. The passage that most affected me, that most demonstrates exactly the unparalleled power of words to describe the inexplicable, is about memory and grief:

“Maybe memory is overrated. Maybe forgetting is better […] Sometimes it’s like juggling a hundred thousand crystal balls in the air all at once, trying to keep all these memories going. Every time one falls to the floor and shatters into dust, another crevice cracks open inside me, through which another chunk of who we were disappears forever.” – Francisco Goldman

I can’t imagine a more meaningful way to discuss the agony of clutching at your every memory as a means of holding on to your departed love. Thank you, Francisco Goldman, for the shape you shared – and thank you words, for giving us all the chance to heal one another.

Lyrics, you make me melt

These lyrics are so damn lovely, I just had to share.

I’ll be kind, if you’ll be faithful
You be sweet and I’ll be grateful
Cover me with kisses dear
Lighten up the atmosphere
Keep me warm inside our bed
I got dreams of you all through my head
Fortune teller said I’d be free
And that’s the day you came to me
Came to me

Come to me my sweetest friend
Can you feel my heart again
I’ll take you back where you belong
And this will be our favorite song
Come to me with secrets bare
I’ll love you more so don’t be scared
When we’re old and near the end
We’ll go home and start again

I caught you burnin’ photographs
Like that could save you from your past
History is like gravity
It holds you down away from me
You and me, we’ve both got sins
I don’t care about where you’ve been
Don’t be sad and don’t explain
This is where we start again
Start again

Today’s the day I’ll make you mine
So get me to the church on time
Take my hand in this empty room
You’re my girl, and I’m your groom

Come to me my sweetest friend
This is where we start again, again

Things you still can’t believe you heard at a pharmacy

I hate sunscreen. 

It’s greasy.  No matter what it smells like, the smell sticks around longer than any other smell you’ve ever smelled.  Ever.  It’s needy – begging to be reapplied every 90 minutes.  It’s demanding – can’t get too hot or it gets runny, can’t go unused too long or it ‘expires’, can’t be used sparingly or it doesn’t work.  It wants you to use it – lots of it and often.  I feel like my sunscreen is the boss of me. 

And it smells.

Despite my hatred for it, I’m a big proponent of sunscreen.  I’m a pasty, British-Polish combination of stunningly white skin that fries up in about 10 seconds flat.  If I venture into sunlight for more than 15 minutes unprotected, it’s an absolute guarantee that I will burn.  This is an unfortunate fact of my existence, but less unfortunate than possibly getting skin cancer one day because I was too dumb to be aware of my own pallor and take greasy, stinky precautions against self-sautéing.

As we’re now in an age of hyper-vigilance against the sun where kids wear long-sleeved bathing suits, and everyone knows the meanings of UVA and SPF, it astounds me to think that people don’t know about sun safety.  I can totally believe that people don’t practice it, but it’s inconceivable to me that someone may not know about it.

I was floored in the pharmacy the other day when I saw and heard things that blew said hypothesis out of the water (or ozone, if you want to be cheeky).  Waiting for my meds, a teenage girl and an older woman who I assumed was her mother approached the counter.  This girl had one of the worst looking sunburns all over every visible inch of her upper body.  She was a tomato.  I was thinking, of course, wow that was stupid of you, and more compassionately, I bet that really hurts.  They asked the other pharmacist on duty what they could get to soothe and treat her sunburn.  Here’s where it gets amazing: as the pharmacist walks out from behind the counter and starts leading them towards what I can only assume was a vat of aloe vera, the mother asks this question “What can we do to prevent the sunburn in the first place?”  Seriously.

The pharmacist, bless his soul, betrayed no facial expression of shock and dismay, but uttered these words without affectation, “Sunscreen, usually.  You need at least 30.”  Bless him, truly.  I could barely stifle my laughter-slash-insults, and am relatively certain that I failed miserably at lifting my jaw from the floor.

The mother responds, “Ohhhhh.  Sunscreen…. ok.”  The mother.  I found myself wondering how on earth this child had managed to make it through her life up to this point when her guardian hadn’t yet acquired the wisdom to know that sunscreen prevents sunburns.  In 2013.  Bless that child too, for the pharmacist may have saved her young life.

This occurred weeks ago, and I still can’t get my mind over it.  I am desperate to know what that mother thought the pharmacist was going to say.  Was she anticipating “Oh, well we have pills that you can take now that prevent sunburns for life.  They’re made of kryptonite and side effects are the ability to fly, read minds, and speed-read.  Let me just show you the shelf where we stock them.”  (I clearly just betrayed my own superhero-fantasy-skills.  Let me add that if I could only have one wish, it would actually be for go-go-Gadget-legs.)

I hate sunscreen.  I hate the fact that I can feel its greasy thickness on my arms right now, and that the smell has so conditioned me that I am fighting an impulse to reapply even though I’m indoors and the moon is out.  But I do appreciate your particular brand of superhero power, sunscreen, and give you props for doing what you do. 

So slather up without regret, even if you loathe it like me.  Take comfort in knowing that you’re smart enough to know how to stop a burn before it starts.  Sun safety summer (woohoo?)!

Killing in the name of… ?

I killed a bird one week ago.

This is the second time that I’ve killed something with my car. The first time was several years ago, when I came around a bend in the highway and saw a small hedgehog-type rodent just sitting there in the road with no apparent intention of moving. What’s a girl to do when barrelling down a 400-series highway with only 3 seconds to make a life-or-death decision? You run over the hedgehog while still trying to decide what to do.

To mediate the guilt of this killing a little, I somehow felt a tiny bit better that I didn’t actually run the hedgehog over per se, but hit it to be sure. I looked in the rearview and saw the little bundle bouncing off to the shoulder behind me. For some reason, I felt better about this than flattening the poor thing and damning it to a post-death destiny of being further flattened by more stunned drivers like me who just don’t have anywhere to move to avoid running over the roadkill some more.

Last week, I was again highway driving, and coming around a curve (it seems if you’re an animal, that you should recommend to all your furry and feathered friends that they not hang out on corners. Come to think of it, this is good advice for humans too). It was early in the morning, I was one of a very few cars out traveling, and as I rounded the bend, I saw in my periphery a bird approaching from the left, flying in a trajectory that would pass him right across my window. A perpendicular path of destruction. That bird hit that part of my car that separates the windshield from the passenger window with an unexpectedly loud THWACK. I jumped in my seat and threw my hand to my chest, a perfectly legitimate response to a surprise and the realization that you’re a killer.

Again, my impulse was to look in the rearview, and again, I saw a tiny carcass falling away behind me. Apparently, me + my car + bendy highways = Death Star. This one bothered me much more than the hedgehog, even though there was substantially less I could have done to avoid this. When you think about it, it was the bird’s fault. I can’t avoid an object that’s directing its own flight path. The onus was entirely on that bird to flit away from me and my mass of steel and fuel. But the guilt weighed heavily because the poor bird left some feathers on my radio antenna.

I drove the rest of the way to my destination, glancing every other second at the little clump of brown and white feathers stuck to my car – wondering what was keeping it stuck there – and feeling nauseous at the thought of having to remove bird guts from the wing mirror. Thankfully, the feathers freed themselves before I came to a stop and no other bird remains lingered.

Be safe out there, hedgehogs, birds, and fellow drivers-cum-accidental-killers, it’s a wide, wide, bendy-roaded world out there.