Yes, its that time of year. In a way, this Yule was the first time I got to celebrate with someone for Yule. I’m going to my parents’ house for Christmas, and leaving the boyfriend here, so we celebrated by opening (the rest of) our gifts early today.
I then spent the afternoon making cookies and fighting off a migraine. Done with the cookies, not with the migraine. I’ve had an exciting, busy, and fun week, but its been full of that murky “real life” and “adult” stuff, too.
As a scientist, I am sometimes confronted with situations that are less than ideal. This week, for example, I had to kill some caterpillars. A little bit last week too, but the bulk of it was this week. These were lab-raised caterpillars that wouldn’t have even existed in nature at this point in time (look outside… do you see snow? I do). But it’s always hard to be the one to do stuff like that. Just like it’s hard to put a dog down. And I know they’re “just” caterpillars but they’re still pretty damned cute.
Yes, it was for the good of science. What we’re doing will hopefully inform us about the relationship between these caterpillars and their host plants. But it always makes me realize, when I have to do the killing, just how much killing goes on in the name of science. Some of it — anything on vertebrates — is regulated, but invertebrates like insects and arthropods have no protection.
I don’t mind giving crickets to my bearded dragon — he kills them quickly, he needs them to survive, and they do have chances to get away. But these caterpillars didn’t. I put them in tubes and put them in the freezer.
But I’m not a vegetarian, either. I eat meat. Hell, I eat plants, and fruits of plants, and some of them die during my eating them, too. It’s just that I’m not used to doing the killing. I would probably eat a lot less meat if I had to kill what I wanted to eat. At least, until I got used to it.
So I was struggling with that science guilt, a little, this week. I was also struggling with the Connecticut tragedy. Suddenly, a lot of what I do for fun seemed… wrong. For example, the day before the shooting, I wrote a song which turned a children’s rhyme into a song about kinky sex. It felt so wrong to sing it after the shooting.
But when I try to think about it, I find that there aren’t any words, really, that can describe how the world should feel about the shooting. I can’t sing that song. I can’t write that song. Others can. For example, this woman, Jami Lunde, wrote one that I haven’t been able to get through yet without crying:
Hold your family close, friends. We all meet the Lord and Lady someday, and it comes to some of us sooner than others.
Immortality is the overarching theme of Yule. Yule is the longest night, the trials and tribulations. It’s about rebirth. What will you do throughout this year to reinvent yourself? What difference will you make?