We’ll be fine, dad

They say
when you meet a bear
play dead
If it’s a grizzly bear you
may also climb a tree
because they do not climb
due to their anatomy
but they have a long reach so you
must climb up high,
higher than you would think
and quickly, probably.
others say
raise your arms up
make yourself bigger
yell maybe
or is that mountain lions
if you have bear spray
maybe play dead
then give them a squirt when they get close
others say wear bells on your
clothes so you don’t surprise them
don’t feed them
don’t pet them
and whatever you do don’t piss on their tree
I have never seen a bear in the wild
although once i thought i did
in the fog
but it was just tree stumps
but i was still real scared
and once, and my little sister will confirm this,
when we were picking huckleberries in the hills,
it got foggy, and i told her to walk
in front
on the logic that should we
encounter a bear,
she was quicker than i and
could elude it better.
Bears are on my mind because
they have bears in Sweden,
i have been told,
and my daughter Beta and I are
flying there tomorrow
to spend a week in a dinky
red cabin
in the woods
by a lake
and i for one am really
looking forward to picking
berries in the woods.
and hiking with my kid.
i joked that we were concerned about
spending a week together in a tiny
cabin, but she reminded me
that i had helped her learn
to drive
and we still get along.
and i will walk in front this time

Imagine

A man in his mid-60s wearing a dark suit walks through a genteel urban neighborhood on his lunch break, feeding crows here and there but mainly scanning the skies for the Attack Crow, which he is trying to befriend by feeding it before it can attack him.

His head swivels like one of those big antennas that swivel so much.

A little old lady with great hair and looking very fit in tight jeans (little old ladies are not what they used to be) with a little old dog on a leash follows the man around and finally cuts him off on a street corner and just regards him, as if waiting for him to recognize her, or slowly realizing the man she thought she recognized is a stranger — the man is not sure, and wonders if she is just going to reprimand him for feeding nasty crows, or complain about it, but she finally, after standing there staring at him, just says,

“Grüß Gott!” to which he replies “Guten Tag!” and after an uncomfortable pause that he cannot parse both go on their way; the man guessing it was a case of mistaken identity, maybe? like maybe he has a doppelgänger in the neighborhood (because this happens on a regular basis, strangers greeting him with odd familiarity) that all these people now think is unfriendly or he is getting really bad at remembering faces.

Or maybe she was just giving him an impromptu psych eval because he looked suspicious or crazy because he was looking over his shoulder and up at the sky and the roofs of buildings because he was in the territory of the attacking crow?

Because, seriously, for 2-3 blocks it feels like a forgotten episode from the Twilight Zone TV series which, auspiciously, began the same year the man did, 1959, and ran until 1964, the year he entered school and gave up hope for humanity.

Rod Serling pitching his idea for the episode: Imagine if you will a man on the cusp of retirement losing his mind because of a crow that attacks only him for some unknown reason.

TV network executive: Rod that doesn’t make any fucking sense. Rod, that makes no goddamned sense at all.

Wie geht es dir?

Come out
to the woodpile
The stones i am moving
have a lot of spiderwebs on them
and i hear my father’s voice
“it’s more scared of you
than you are of it”
that’s when he lost all credibility
for me
a little boy
because – first of all, how do you know how scared i am, or a spider; second, some spiders are no doubt motivated by fear to bite you; third what good do you intend to do by saying that?
and that is who i have been ever since,
a little boy without faith
in his father
besides he was a lot of admirable
things, for a little boy – how far he could
hit a baseball!
and fix a car!
but his fears were ultimately a prison
something else i inherited,
besides the chuckle and the short legs
so what do you do?
i have spent a lifetime
saving all the bugs
even the jumping rat in that house
in greece that one summer when the kids were little.
and now
in honor of my father
and myself
and my kids
i do it even if it scares me
and after a very challenging
and scary
and fucking weird week or so
to the point where
i am unable to sleep
i ask you
o wise spider
is it possible to confront too
many fears
at one time?

Not at your age
pack as much in
as you can
not because of some YOLO hangup
but because of YNKWTAWB thing
you never know
when the aneurysm will
burst
you know?
no i am just shitting you
just live
live for the life
for the curiosity
for the discovery
for the hugs and kisses
for the colors
and the textures
live for the laughs
whatever
whatever
double check your ropes
and start climbing
check your oil, your battery
and go
whatever whatever
take all the steps and
it might be a dance and
when a fly gets stuck in your web
bite it

A tall old guy with a resonant voice

And a medium-brown corduroy jacket
just accosted me outside the store
asked me if I could imagine a world
without war and i thought buddy
i can imagine a lot of stuff
i can imagine eating my cottage cheese
crackers and imitation Oreos
i can imagine everyone sharing the abundance
we’re swimming in every day
i wanted to ask him
can you imagine god created all this out of nothing
out of herself since if there was nothing
for starters, but god, then
all this is god can you imagine god doing
that without being all this? the crow
and the peanut
the garbage and the garbageman?
god is watching you thru my eyes right now
and so on
but he had his spiel
his resonant spiel and said something about
the Lord’s Prayer, of course you know that
and I thought buddy, i’m an ordained minister
that would’ve been on the test if there
were one of course i know it
i took his pamphlet but i’m really
busy so i glanced at it and tossed it in
the garbage can after i crossed the street.
i wonder if he always thought about this stuff
or if he only started after he retired
and had free time to think
but i can imagine thy will be done
but what will
who knows how crazy god is
i can imagine peace between humans and birds,
even bugs – dude i watched
a young man save a bug on the sidewalk
on my way back to the office.
i wanted to fist bump him and say
right on man
right on.

Zzzt zzzt zzzt

i gave the crows
ok like hang on
i got a new coat.
a friend was in town and it was cold and rainy
so i bought a spring coat
rain coat but not as warm as my winter coat
and a nice fabric so i don’t go
zzzt zzzt zzzt when i walk
you know what i mean
lightweight sort of trenchcoat looking
but no belt (those always get tangled up)
and black
but also no dog kibbles in the pocket
so i bought peanuts this morning
in the shell
for the crows
and the crows were all, every one of them,
like:
man what is this?
peanuts?
people always talk about feeding crows peanuts
in the shell
and i used to feed them peanuts thinking
cracking the shells makes it interesting
gives them
something to do but
they like the Frolic! brand kibble better.
and they all hesitated before taking
a nut
they all looked at me
the way i look at the ceiling at night
when i can’t sleep
or the horizon when i get
into another fight with a loved one
fight or misunderstanding
or screw-up
thinking
i hope i sleep better tomorrow
i hope we get along tomorrow
i hope this builds character
i hope there is kibble again
someday
but on the other hand
on the other hand
to be fair
and without wanting to jinx anything
i have also been very lucky
i have met interesting people
i am doing interesting things
i am doing things so scary i am still scared 2 weeks later
friends visit from out of town (see above)
if only i could sleep
knock on wood

On tardigrades

Upon waking this morning, I noticed that my mind was already working full bore, considering tardigrades. Specifically, wondering whether, if they are so good at surviving inhospitable environments, they survive the human digestive tract when accidentally (or, I suppose, purposely) eaten and if this is so, whether their number is growing to the extent that the proportion of tardigrades in our food is increasing such that, some day in the future, all of our food (and all of our poo) will be pure tardigrade. Or, I also wondered, would tardigrades elect to remain inside us, and if so, will they find a way to control our thoughts and actions? It is not an unrealistic outcome, considering how tardigrades, besides being extremely attractive and hardy, are also intelligent and wise beyond the limited ability of humans to comprehend and suitable leaders for this planet and all planets, without exceptionnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

On proprioception

This morning, I recalled the word “proprioception”, including the correct spelling, on the first try. No semi-humorous homing in on it like when my brain tried “cake pharmacy” for “confectionary”. Just the right word, spelled right, on the first try.
Fun fact: I took up bouldering *in part* to help ward off dementia, and the fact that I was able to remember a word I have never before used tells me that it is helping, or at least not hurting.
On the other hand, I for a while really suffered from the misconception that I was a lousy proprioceptor because a friend who occasionally coaches me is wont to yell things at me while I am climbing like, “MIG DU HÄNGST DA WIE EIN SACK!” and I would be like, “really? I had no idea!” Or last time, trying a route a level higher than I am used to, there was a spot where you had to do a certain move and I had no idea if I was doing it right or what I was doing wrong.
And because of this I decided that I had a serious proprioceptivity deficit.
But then I did an Internet search and read a couple articles about it and my conclusion is I am just a beginning boulderer, someone starting out at a new sport at an – let’s admit it – relatively advanced age – after a lifetime of non-sportiness and uncoordination, and so I’m not handicapped, I’m just shitty (but improving) at the new sport, which is completely normal and also great fun. If I had a problem with proprioception I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the middle of the night and navigate my house in the pitch darkness almost never treading on a cat, then sit down on the toilet (sitting, because no matter how good your proprioception is you don’t want to risk a standing wee in the dark, what if the cover is down, or someone is already sitting there? etc.), then wash and dry my hands and return to bed – finding everything perfectly (doorknob, toilet seat, sink, faucet, soap, towel) simply via orientation in space.
So my proprioception works completely fine.
I may have a vestibular disorder, however, according to one article I came across on my search, possibly vestibular neuritis or Meniere’s disease, looking at YouTube tutorials right now who needs doctors anymore welcome to the 21st century.