1. I had one of the most traumatic incidents of my life last Wednesday, and I’m still not sure I’ve recovered emotionally.
I was leaving my apartment Wednesday evening to go to therapy with my purse hung across my body, so the strap hung off my left shoulder while the purse itself rested against my right hip. As I walked out the door and stepped onto the sidewalk, I heard a bird make quite the squawk over my head. In the split second after hearing that noise, I looked up, saw one bird flying over me, and heard the stomach churning thud of its companion hitting a window on my building. My heart didn’t even really have time to sink, because immediately after I heard the thud, I saw the bird falling right by me. I put my arms up to protect my head, thought I maybe felt the bird brush against me, and then looked around on the sidewalk. I looked in front of me, to my left, and behind me, and didn’t see the bird anywhere. This seemed to defy all logic. The bird had clearly been in trouble, and I didn’t understand how it could’ve flown away without me noticing.
Then I looked to my right and let out a yelp. Somehow, without me noticing at all, the bird in its stunned state had latched onto my purse strap. This was not just any bird, either – your standard house sparrow or starling or even a pigeon. It was, unmistakably, a woodpecker, and it wasn’t even just any ol’ woodpecker: I was absolutely sure it was a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. Some further research confirmed my suspicion, but also told me that this was a juvenile Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, which just made everything that much more traumatic, since I worried that he’d get lost without his mom 😦
My immediate thought was, “Oh my God, this is happening to me!” A week or two before this incident, I read an article on DNAInfo about a video a guy recorded years ago who had a stunned woodpecker attach itself to his car as he drove through downtown Chicago. I was awfully jealous of him, getting to be that up close and personal with a woodpecker, especially toward the very end when it hops into the car and clings to the man recording the video. I mean, what more could you possibly hope for in life?! (Okay, probably a lot if you’re not obsessed with birds like I am, but for me – wow! As far as I was concerned, the guy in the video was The Chosen One.)
My second thought, approximately .0002 seconds after my immediate thought, was, “Oh my God, I have to do something!” I’m not lying or exaggerating: I honestly can’t think of another time in my life where I’ve been so distressed. I took my purse off and the bird kept hanging on, so I laid it down gently on the grass next to the sidewalk while my mind raced on who to call for help. I first thought about calling 911 to see if they could connect me to someone, then considered animal control, then remembered that that same DNAInfo article had concluded with information from a group that rescued and rehabilitated birds who had run into buildings, so I pulled my phone out of my purse and frantically Googled the article.
Mercifully, the article included the phone number of the Chicago Bird Collision Monitor’s hotline right at the very end, so I tapped on the number and called. No one picked up, so I left a message telling them where I was and what had happened. I was sobbing by this point, I was so upset about this bird. His eyes were open and he was breathing really, really hard, and I didn’t see any signs of bleeding, so I was pretty sure he was just stunned, but it absolutely broke my heart into a hundred million pieces to see this bird so distressed and not know what I could do to help him.
I called my mom (who thought I was having a panic attack over earlier unrelated anxieties I had had on Wednesday) and once I finally got the story out, she told me it would be best to just leave the bird there and continue on to therapy, so that’s what I did. I did have to pull the birds claws out from my purse strap, though, because obviously I couldn’t just leave my purse sitting on the ground. Let me tell you, I definitely understand how woodpeckers attach themselves to trees now! The bird was too out of it to fight me off in any way, but even without any resistance, it was tricky to get his claws out of my purse strap, because they were really, really sharp!
The Chicago Bird Collision Monitors called me back a few minutes after I got to therapy to get more information on where the bird was, and sent a volunteer out right away to rescue him. By the time the volunteer got to my apartment, it was almost an hour after the collision and they couldn’t find the bird anyway. I presume this means the bird recovered and continued on on his own, because no alternative really makes sense (by which I mean there’s too much foot traffic in my neighborhood for a coyote or fox to come over and eat him at that time of day).
While I SINCERELY hope this never happens again, I now know that if it does, you should put the bird in a clean brown paper bag or cardboard box until a volunteer can arrive. They’ll then rehabilitate the bird as necessary and release it in a forest preserve so it can continue on its journey. But if I never need to use that information, that’d be perfectly all right by me!
2. In substantially less traumatic but equally unexpected encounters, I saw Jesse Tyler Ferguson on Monday and I’m still not over that, either.
I absolutely love Modern Family, and while I’d like to say Mitchell (played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, for those unfamiliar) is my favorite character on the show, that would be a bit inaccurate, because I’m not really sure I can pick a favorite. When I found out late last week that Jesse Tyler Ferguson was hosting the James Beard Awards in Chicago on Monday evening, I had grand visions of happening to see him in town on Monday, fulling realizing, of course, that he’d most likely be traveling with some sort of entourage, shielded from the eyes of peasants like me, and that there wasn’t actually really any chance in the world I’d actually see him.
Under normal circumstances, I never would’ve been at the corner of Washington and Wacker, directly across the street from the Lyric Opera Building where the James Beard Awards would take place, at about 4 p.m. on a Monday. No fewer than three dramatically different-than-usual events conspired to put me on that corner at that time, and if even one of those events hadn’t occurred, I wouldn’t have been there. But I was, and as I was approaching Wacker on the north side of Washington, I saw a black SUV cross Washington and stop in front of the Lyric. Even then, it didn’t cross my mind that this could somehow be related to Jesse Tyler Ferguson, until I looked again and THERE HE WAS. I don’t know if he had arrived in the SUV at that moment or if he had forgotten something and the SUV was coming to the Lyric to bring it to him (from how he was positioned, it didn’t look like he had just gotten out of the car, but I don’t really know for sure). Regardless, he was RIGHT THERE (well, right there on the other side of Washington, but whatever), and I lost my mind. This was WAY cooler than seeing Rick Bayless in the West Loop a few months ago! (Coincidentally, Rick Bayless’s restaurant, Topolobampo, received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant on Monday night.)
I didn’t say anything, because as we learned from the Rick Bayless encounter, I apparently become mute in the event of unexpected celebrity sightings. Plus he seemed like he was on more of a mission than Rick Bayless a couple months ago anyway, and I wouldn’t have wanted to annoy him (though I think my desire to not annoy celebrities in general, regardless of their likeliness of being on a mission or not, also plays into my silence. If I were famous, it would drive me crazy to not be able to do anything, even running out to my car, without people fawning over me or trying to get my attention because they had seen me on TV, and I certainly don’t want to be the cause of that.). So instead, I unearthed my phone from my pocket and took photos like a creeper.
I still can’t believe this actually happened.
3. I have SO many things I want to talk about from my trip to Nashville, but that’s going to have to wait until life settles down a bit. I’ve been swamped at work and in my out-of-work life, and have barely had time to sit down at a computer, never mind write a blog post. Things for you to look forward to later 😉 In the mean time, here’s a preview of the trip:
I’ll ask it again: have you ever seen any celebrities in the wild? Now I’ve seen two! And in the space of about three months, no less!
Have you ever been to Nashville?