The secret of happiness

There is this guy. His wife made roast beef.

The guy carved it, with the carving knife, slicing it as thinly as he could, and the family ate it.

The roast beef was really good. The guy’s wife was really good at cooking beef. Her steaks were also fantastic.

The next day, the guy looked at leftover roast beef in the fridge. It was beautiful. It had that brown-grey layer around the edge, and the healthy pink center.

It was really beautiful. He ate a slice, even though he had just eaten cereal for breakfat, and the roast beef was delicious.

It made him happy.

This is the secret of happiness, thought the guy: roast beef.

Roast beef is the secret of happiness.

His wife made him roast beef, and the roast beef made him happy. You cannot make someone happy directly. But you can make them roast beef, and the roast beef will make them happy.

Even now, a couple days later, he’s still happy.

That’s the secret.

If you’re a vegetarian, I’m sorry.

Cleaning a furnace

The world, it spins so fast, yet we are not dizzy.

First weekend in ages with sweet, empty hours to goof off. Woman goes to zoo with kid, tells man, oh BTW you have to paint walk-in closet as cleaning lady coming tomorrow. Gives him roll of plastic to cover stuff.

Post-tantrum, man looks for brushes, paint. Calls wife. White paint has solidified. Try other color, she says, to his disappointment.

No roller, either, just a little brush. But it is a small room and walls mostly covered by new wardrobes now too so okay.

Takes a couple hours. Maybe a few hours. Go downstairs to¬† make tea. Father-in-law comes, with something his wife cooked for man’s wife. Says something about cleaning, man fails to understand. Want some tea? Man asks. Okay, says father-in-law. A conversation between the hard-of-hearing and the slightly demented ensues.

Cleaning: man realizes, someone said something earlier, about cleaning the furnace.

Have time to clean the furnace? Yep, says father-in-law. That was the whole reason he came over, man realizes.

Inside his head, his mind is whipcracking around with these realizations. Outwardly, he appears normal.

They go down to clean the furnace. To do that, you remove the plate on the front, remove the bolts holding on the face, open

(whoa giant brown-recluse-looking spider on the floor by father-in-law’s foot)

the door, remove a drum-type thing, get a wire brush, brush out the soot from inside the furnace.

(the spider is very still. it is either dead or playing possum. man watches it closely, although he should be memorizing the furnace-cleaning steps. father-in-law’s birkenstocked foot moves closer and closer to still spider, man wonders if he should say anything, but he doesn’t know if the spider is dead or alive and why waste all the excitement sure to ensue on a dead spider?)

replace drum, bolt door shut, replace face, plug things back in.

(man will tell father-in-law about spider if it starts running up his leg, he decides. father-in-law finally bumps it, it still doesn’t move, so it must be dead, man feels better. it was only dead! who cares about a dead spider?)

father-in-law cleans up. man will shower later.

they chat a while. how many more chats will we have like this, man wonders.

father-in-law goes home. man cleans up room he just painted, reads a book, takes a shower.

it’s a fine, sunny day.

 

 

 

Time travel – 1. Indications of time travel

  1. Huge fortunes amassed through lucky investments or unusual inventions.
  2. Lottery wins
  3. People who resemble you, only older, accosting you on the street with advice.
  4. Assassinations
  5. Hitler getting beat up a lot as a child
  6. Serial killings of similar-looking people by assassins from the future with only approximate descriptions of their target.
  7. Teddy Roosevelt prevented from annexing Mexico
  8. Eradication of smallpox
  9. Beyonce Knowles
  10. What else?

 

Pow! Kabang! Watch out!

Watch goes down the street. The street is lined with the heads of guys in suits hollering POW and KABANG and WATCH OUT!

Watch tunes them out. A crow follows him, he notices, flying from tree to tree.

Mechanical spiders are running all over. I SEE YOU ARE GOING TO THE STORE MAY I RECOMMEND A SALAD? says one.

A second one says, PEOPLE WHO BUY SALAD OFTEN BUY SOME FRUIT AS WELL.

Watch tunes them out too. He notices how wide the streets are without traffic.

It is a sunny day. Warm, early fall, is there any better season?

Gravity is light today if you can ignore the distractions.

And the air is full of flowers.

Watch gets a sandwich. He gets a long one because he wants to see how many crows he can feed on his way back to the office.

The line at the cash register is slow because the guy in front of him is having problems with his cash card.

REJECTED, says the cashier. The young guy tries again, a little more flustered.

REJECTED, says the woman again.

I’ll have to come back, the young guy says.

He has a German accent, notices Watch.

I’ll get it, Watch says, but no one hears him.

He takes out his wallet and gives the cashier a ten. I’ll get it, he says.

OH, she says.

The young guy doesn’t notice and starts leaving without his stuff – a box of sugar and some snack for lunch.

IT’S OKAY, says the cashier. THIS GUY PAID.

Outside the young guy says thanks.

My pleasure, says Watch.

He feeds two crows on the way back – the one who had been following him, and a big black one watching him from a tree.

POW KABANG! holler the heads.

Take the afternoon off, says Watch.

Odin tries to think sometimes

A week of flatpack furniture assembly.

Crows swooping close.

A habanero plant with slugs on every chili pepper.

Rain, but then sun.

Odin walks past the bench. He walks in the direction of the lottery ticket shop, in the direction of the bakery, but then circles back to the office, crossing gliding crow trajectories, because he feels neither hungry nor lucky.

When did newspapers change their slogan from “All the news that’s fit to print” to “Be very afraid”?

Odin wishes he could have thoughts more complicated and clever than “the universe is heaven, except when we make it hell”.

Maybe a more clever thought will come along soon.

Any time now, maybe.

In his office, which he shares with a dozen people because of rennovation work on his regular office, they have put the radio right behind Odin, and it plays 90s’ classics all the live-long day.

Some of the songs are okay. Most are not.

This can be said of most eras.

Odin makes a deal with a crow. They trade bodies and Odin flies around.

Odin swoops down the street past a police officer with a machine gun guarding a sensitive embassy.

He flies over red urban rooftops and marvels at the ivy turning red and the distant mountains and bodies of water glistening in the sunlight.

He marvels at the sound of wind in his feathers.

He flies back and trades back for his old body.

People come around the corner with rakes and pitchforks.

A woman points at him and shouts, “There he is! Get him!”

Odin wonders what the crow did while they were trading bodies.

What crows dream of, I guess.

Odin’s dream

Two beggars came to the door

says Odin.

Laborers, or criminals; foreigners, male and dark.

They could not speak our language.

I did not let them inside.

They looked hungry. I will make you a sandwich, I said

says Odin.

I found bread, white loaves. I couldn’t decide whether to spread butter or mayonnaise on the bread. Then I found mayonnaise I had made and thought, it will go bad faster than butter so I had better use it up.

I made them cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise and sliced cheese that was beginning to go translucent around the edges. I fed them before I woke up

says Odin.

What does my dream mean.

Fear and liminality

says Loki.

You are an old man blind in one eye. Long white hair and beard, and blind in one eye.

but

says Loki.

Still you love the unknown and secret and feed it freely.

Next time feed it something richer than old cheese sandwiches with old mayonnaise.

And see what happens.

Of course the question is, should you take a trickster’s advice.