Winged messengers

A tale of two insects

I guess bugs are my beat now.


On the day of RBG’s death, a bug flew into my eye.

I knew when the heartbreak emojis started rolling in that I shouldn’t look at Twitter. I also knew that when my eyeball became the stage for winged death throes that I shouldn’t engage. I knew to act was to intensity. But rub, frantically, with my fingers, my shirt, the corner of my mask, I did.

At least the insect’s convulsions diverted me from dreadscrolling.

Many hours, eye drops, and broken blood vessels later, I fished the body out. The next morning, a wing appeared, ready for the plucking.

For days afterward, something kept poking away inside, begging more rubbing (I know, I know), more eye drops, more frantic facial water baths. My sclera was the color of Wyoming election results. Catch me in profile on the right side and you might suspect I just returned from a marijuana tourism bender in Colorado.

On the day of RBG’s death, we found a volunteer decoration under the chair on our front porch.

At first I wasn’t convinced it was a pupa. Surely nothing that I would instinctually squirm away from could be so exquisite. Perhaps a lost trinket had been picked up by spider webs and miraculously suspended? Perhaps a geocacher had squirreled away this diminutive beaut?

In the scope of universal randomness, the odds of those happenings couldn’t be so far distant from a fly suicide bombing my eyeball.

But no. It’s soft to the touch. It hangs just so, impossibly but firmly aloft, a filigreed dewdrop among the dust bunnies.

It’s so lovely I want to wear it around my neck and dangle it from my earlobe. I would accept an offer made with that gem. It glints of promises and possibilities and it aches of adventures unknown.

And yet it is not a thing to be coveted and acquired. It is not for adornment; it is not a gift given to signify possession. It is a monarch butterfly chrysalis, and scientists do not recommend wearing them as jewelry. (Not everyone heeds the advice of scientists.)

Our household has mobilized into a butterfly watch, with conflicted aims. We want, in equal measure, to hold fast to this treasure and to bear witness to its eclosion.

When the creature emerges, having been liquefied and fashioned anew, it will have advantages beyond aesthetics: a magnetic compass for navigation. Highly efficient muscles for long distance flight.

The bug dismembered in my eye met no such romantic fortunes.

Among this cohort of winged messengers, I wish desperately for the gilded jade on my doorstep to prevail. That after mucking around in tears real and artificial and bearing insults insignificant and existential, all this turmoil will bring us vibrantly into alignment. Onto a course worth staying, with the special endurance muscles to ride and not die.

Choosing to look away: I’m so filled with dread by the implications of RGB’s death that I can’t quite look at it—any of it— straight. If anything, the need to coddle my eyes has finally gotten me off Twitter. May her memory be a revolution, and may you be like Ruth.

Surprise sighting: A Biden-Harris sign in Amarillo, TX. 😲

Are you ready to vote?

Check yourself: where on the bias spectrum do your media sources fall, and can you diversify? I’m adding The Dispatch to my rotation.

Things I liked looking at and listening to: The End Times are Here, and I am at Target. Vocational awe, or stop expecting librarians, teachers, and mothers to solve all our problems. The most provocative thing I’ve read about social media in a long while. Don’t cancel Netflix; Cuties asks all sorts of urgent questions and is absolutely worth watching. Peaceful pushback via jazz. Accumulation and its discontents. Armchair Expert with Bill Gates. Buying myself back (thanks Ruby!). How addresses shape our lives. Bunga Bunga was so fun to listen to but also … not surprising. What ayahuasca has to do with bodybuilding.

Happening TONIGHT: a conversation about the behind-the-scenes of bodybuilding competitions. I did not know much about this world until I interviewed Lauren Irick, a former bodybuilding champ, and her journey is *wild*. Join us tonight (or sign up to get the recording) for a candid sneak peek into this world.

A+ on the vocab quiz: Eclose (v): to emerge from the eggshell or pupal case.