In Russia, cat adopt you

Odin wonders, did kittens have something to do with the loss of his one eye and he made up the story about the spring of wisdom because it sounded more divine?

He wonders, is that what happened to Van Gogh and he made up the whole cut off his own ear story because mad artist sounded better in the 19th century than kitten?

See Odin woke up at 3.30 with a kitten gnawing on his ear, making nomnomnom sounds and purring sounds, and smacking its lips.

It also bathed his entire head as he tried to fall back to sleep.

You ever try to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night with a kitten chewing on your head? he asks the crows.

Of course not.

Of course not. The crows aren’t even there, Odin is just imagining them today. His wife packed him a lunch and he ate it early in his office and now he’s sitting there while workmen drill holes in brick walls on all sides and concrete walls and do other things similarly noisy to floors and ceilings with other power tools.

What say the slain?

Here is what I wish for you: that one day you lay aside the millstone of recognition for just a second and driving down the street, say, you see a young woman walking toward you on the sidewalk, smiling in the morning sunshine, on her way to work, dark hair flowing in the breeze and unaware of you and the sight of her makes you happy and you think, what a beautiful, together, strong, happy, professional-looking, competent, smart, intelligent, interesting, charismatic and unique woman and only then after this objective reaction to a stranger, realize she is your daughter.

What say the hanged?

Seeing yourself at the center of creation is a failure of imagination.

Weather is weird

Weather is weird.
This is no season. This is no proper season. Seventy degrees in November.
This is no season.
How are you, he tells the kid.
There should be fog covering that field, but there is only warm dry air.
How are you, how is a person supposed to answer that, he says.
Someone asked me that, he says, once, and it totally threw me because I paused to think about it instead of just say, fine.
The kid chuckles. Yeah.
I was all like, objectively or subjectively?
By whose standards?
What time frame are we looking at?

You walk to the store. A kid has a party, another kid says, your cat is so cute, the first kid says, that’s not my cat, and suddenly you’re walking to the store for extra catfood on your lunch break, plus something from the bakery in case a crow passes your way.

Of course it does.

Every day is the same. Get up, make coffee, read, clean something, feed cats, take shower, get dressed, go to work. Get lunch, or don’t get lunch. Read. Go home. Clean something, go to bed.

At a certain level of magnification, anyway. At a microscopic, sub-atomic level, I suppose things vary wildly. This electron will only ever be exactly here once.

This quark, now you see it, now you don’t.

Just say you’re fine.

Odin looked at his toe

Odin looked at his toe it was all bloody.

He thought a minute.

Oh yeah he stubbed it earlier in the day.

One mystery solved.

Odin walked to the store, not raining, crow recognized him, followed him to the store.

Do animals have consciousness? They think. They solve problems, is that consciousness? Also crows lie and steal, they look over their shoulders when they’re doing something shady to see if anyone is watching.

Here, Odin gives the crow a hard sausage. A piece of one. Then he gives the crow a second piece to see what it will do.

It studies the pieces. It arranges them side by side, perpendicular, then parallel until it has them arranged in such a fashion that it can get both into its beak at the same time and do something – hide them or fly off with them, Odin doesn’t stick around to watch.

It could have just flown off with one, left the other, come back for it later, but a second crow was watching so it had to take both.

What say the hanged?
I seen you on the dock letting the sunrise warm your face, you were smiling.
I remember how you liked to pick cigarette butts out of the gutter, back when you were still learning to walk.
Second-prettiest eyes I ever saw, some mechanic, brown eyes glowing amber in autumn sunlight.
Prettiest: green-eyed girl in an airport long time ago stopped me in my tracks.

What say the slain?
Nihilism is childish.
Agnosticism is where it’s at.
Certainty is for morans.
Who knows? Not me.
Who knows? Not me. Let’s find out.

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.

O what a lucky man

So now Odin keeps a package of smoked, dried sausages in his desk drawer and never goes for a walk on his lunch break without one in his pocket, now that the grey crow has tracked him to his office. He goes out, the crow lands in the grass and Odin crouches there, holding out a sausage, C’mere, c’mere, lunch little buddy, across the street from a diplomat’s residence — guard, flag, servants — then gives up and tosses the sausage to the crow.

The crow marches up and down the street like Groucho Marx chomping on a cigar, then hides the sausage by the curb. Odin walks to a nearby park, but not without being accosted by the crow a second time. Sorry, pal, just one today.

How would his suit smell if he packed sausages everywhere he went? Like a mad relative, that’s how.

The park was recently re-opened after running wild for decades and is green and overgrown. Crows watch him from the trees and there is an observatory.

What say the hanged?

How unlikely it is that we are even here, we lucky crowd, conceived against millennia of opposition, branches withered and frozen, starved and broken and trimmed and yet here we hang, fat and ripe and feeling sorry for ourselves.

There is a science to luck and that science is put yourself in its way. Life might follow you into your room and roll on its back at your feet while you sit there at your desk, but luck is outside, barking at cars and jumping from branch to branch and looking you in the eye and smiling.

Can we have a show of hands?

The air in northern Crete, in the week of Easter, has a grainer scent to it than springtime air in Vienna. Cretan spring air is herbal and smells of land, and sea, while that in Vienna is floral and urban.

At least where Odin works it is.

How many of you removed a tick from a teenaged girl’s navel today? Can we have a show of hands? Because Odin has.

Odin wonders if he leads a charmed life.

Also, whenever he hears the word TICK his skin crawls and he has to exert effort to not scratch himself from head to toe and shake his hair like a dog emerging from a lake.

Odin had a thing recently. It must have been Tuesday because on Monday it was raining and on Tuesday he needed to go to the tobacco shop to get back on schedule with his lottery tickets – Odin is in the habit of buying tickets for two different games, and if he buys them on the wrong days they are more expensive because the optional drawing options (which are obviously a scheme to get customers to pay additional marginal fees, but OTOH are also the only thing Odin ever wins) are for two drawings instead of just a single drawing. So he has to synchronize his purchases and when he is on schedule buys only on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

We shall not dwell on this because a full explanation would be even more confusing than the above.

Odin had a thing recently. On his way to catch a streetcar after work, the grey crow followed him up the street, and Odin felt badly about being empty-handed. On his way to get the lottery tickets on Tuesday on his lunch break, the crow followed him down the sidewalk again, this time not flying but walking, sort of waddling like a casual little penguin, while Odin spoke to it.

Sorry, little dude. I’m fasting today.

But Odin bought a ciabatta-looking roll with cheese baked over it at the bakery next to the tobacconist and stood on his corner waiting for the crow, nibbling his cheese roll. The crow arrived at the moment Odin gave up on it.

Hi.

Odin tossed it the remains of the roll, about 80%, and the crow hesitated only briefly before flying away with it.

With the flat, rectangular roll in its beak, it looked like a flying hammerhead shark.

Odin’s conscience was assuaged.

No, wait: this was on Monday (Monday is also an okay day to buy lottery tickets) because on Tuesday the rest of the thing happened: returning from a walk, Odin saw his crow on the sidewalk by the corner, eating.

Odin was fascinated to realize that he is not the only human trained by the crow.

The man was sharply dressed, in an expensive blue suit, Ascot tie, nice watch and shoes. Somewhat younger than Odin, let’s say in his forties. When he noticed Odin, he concealed the roll in his hand (Odin had half a mind to tell the man corvids like meat, too, man) and examined the display of a mobile phone. Odin greeted him and the man greeted back.

Odin disappeared around the corner. A blackbird watched Odin from a gate and Odin watched it back. It looked birdlike and mechanical, like the robot robin in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, and just like that he remembered Laura Dern’s grimace in Blue Velvet when Isabella Rossellini showed up naked on the porch – a facial expression like the sum total of all silent movie face acting in history.

And he imagined Second Crow Man inhaling nitrous oxide thru a plastic mask.

And singing.

Odin’s wife recently said to him that he sometimes says things that seem more the result of his bizarre trains of thought than what immediate company is saying or doing. She seems convinced that his mode of thought is exotic.

Isn’t everyone like this? Odin tells himself. Everyone thinks this way, right?

Or are some people really just baked potatoes all the way through?

The string theory of Cracker Jack

There are a lot of women with babies in strollers in the deli. One is tempted to assume they are mothers, but Odin assumes nothing.

One is very slender and dressed in black.

One has bright red hair.

The pre-packaged sandwiches and salads look depressing, but Odin gets turkey breast and cheese anyway. On whole-wheat bread.

And a mylar bag of “honey”-glazed peanuts.

He eats peanuts on his way to the bench. This afternoon, they remind him of what was, for him, the best part of what he as a boy knew as Cracker Jacks, real name Cracker Jack, an American snack treat made of popcorn coated in molasses flavored candy, candied peanuts and a cheap toy surprise, originally in a waxed box, now probably in a mylar bag (he hasn’t eaten any for decades), invented in Chicago by German immigrant Frederick William “Fritz” Rueckheim, registered in 1896, making it America’s oldest official junk food.

According to one theory of the multiverse, one universe can arise in another universe via a quantum tunnel, and continue to expand and exist there, without being detected by observers in the firstĀ  universe (Odin assumes). Although he can sense a Cracker Jack universe now, somewhere nearby, where he is a young boy peeling back the foily wrapping on a waxy box, and tearing it open and shaking out some candied popcorn and eating it, and fishing around for the prize (a ring in this case, or a little plastic game where you roll a small metal ball around a maze) looking forward to the candied peanuts that always seem to sink to the bottom of the box.

Eating his glazed peanuts Odin thinks this is like cutting to the chase of eating Cracker Jack. He liked the peanuts more than the prize, although the prize was ostensibly the culmination of a Cracker Jack session, which for Odin (back in the Cracker Jack universe) was a special occasion, perhaps once a month or when his aunt visited and brought Cracker Jack and Swedish fish candy.

At least that’s what he thinks the fish candy was called.

It’s been almost fifty years.

No crows show up at the bench, only blackbirds, which Odin ignores because he doesn’t want to start anything with a new species, although blackbirds (although nice songbirds) lack the intelligence of crows – they are dumb (or daring) enough for his cats to catch now and then, and one flew into his car last week, expiring in a cloud of feathers, which still makes him sad when he thinks about it.

He hears a crow cawing, however. He gets up to throw away the garbage from his lunch – mylar peanut bag, plastic sandwich package – and saves a little of the sandwich, because he senses the crow he heard was talking to him. From the garbage can, he can see the third crow, the grey one, waiting at the bench. It is nervous and skittish, so he tosses it the sandwich he saved from a greater distance than usual. The bird flies off with it in its beak, landing on the roof of a garage across the street, where it eats at its leisure.

The honey-roasted peanuts Odin had for lunch today were not very similar to Cracker Jack peanuts. The coating on today’s peanuts was crustier and duller; the Cracker Jack peanuts he remembers having a thinner, shinier coating.

They were the only junk food he got as a boy, and only about once a month.