There was no shortage of crows this morning. It's one of those days when I realised why a bunch of the buggers is known as a "murder". Six bloody thirty on a Sunday morning, and there is a racket on the lawn outside that would drown a Shuttle launch.

I go out and I try to spot them. Today they are secretive, by which I mean there are seven¹. Normally they tumble through the sky, seemingly just for the sport of it, before landing so gracefully in the trees. This is no vulgar bird, the crow. They are smart. They solve problems, are tool-users. They are social, gregarious creatures that seem to have enormous appetites for everything, including life, which they enjoy to the full. Today when I go out they are just watching me, as they did the morning after she died. I'd taken a walk round the neighbourhood, and they'd been on the green, paddling about. When I walked around the path they'd all paused and looked at me.

Christine and I often walked around the green where we live, a huge circular lawn, ideally suited for a small-scale game of cricket. There would be crows, stamping around on the grass picking up who-knows-what and watching us. Occasionally we would move too close, at which they would give us a look of corvine disdain before flapping heavily off to another pecking ground. Christine would occasionally talk to them in their own language (or swear, or ask questions; I don't know) and oftentimes they would respond, but I never understood what they talked about. This was the secret they kept between them.


I wondered for a long time what that secret might be, and now I think I know. The world is a huge place, and we humans proudly strut across it, thinking it belongs to us. We take what we need and we try to have it conform to our will. We divert rivers, build dams, blow the tops off mountains, delve deep in the dark dungeons of the rock beneath. We try to tame it and at the same time abuse it, and then we get all surprised when it responds with natural laws to demonstrate its own power. We build cities in floodplains and act all surprised when the floods come. We plant huge cities in the desert and draw water for lawns and bloody golf courses, and curse when the ground beneath crumbles as it dries.

In some cultures, the crow is considered to be a psychopomp, a being that guides the soul to the afterlife. There are those who believe that God made all this for Man, that it's the perfect gift from a Perfect Being to his once-perfect creation. Arrogant is Humanity, and the crows know it. We try to live forever and we are surprised when we fail.


Life is still good. The sun still comes up, and the crows enjoy their aerobatics. I enjoyed the rain yesterday and the sun today, but I miss you, my love.

Thank you, everyone.


¹ Seven crows can mean a secret, a witch or sickness. This is just superstition, but it fit today.

This is not an April Fool's Joke. The internet is polluted enough with that.

So today.

This week was fairly chaotic for me (as it was for all of us, some more than others). Five U.S. states this week. Three for work. Drove through one with a stop off for fuel and calories. Am now ensconced in the fifth and final.

Things I got done in the past two days:

  • Paid my rent.
  • Spent less than 24 hours at home after 2 weeks on the road.
  • Did my 2011 taxes. Thankfully, my accountant explained that while I'm an idiot, I'm not as big an idiot as I thought, and do not owe the Internal Revenue Service over $17,000. Actually, I already paid them and can expect a (very) modest refund. This is a relief, and this is why I pay an accountant; had I done the forms myself, I would have flagellated myself for screwing up (as I thought I had) and paid the U.S. Government $17,000 I already paid them. And I never would have gotten it back.
  • Saw friends - two different sets.
  • Drove 300 miles, after the 400 miles I put on my rental car in the Bay area last week and the 150 miles driving around the Houston area earlier this week.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: I relocated to another state for several (weeks? months? I dunno). I am staying with one of my oldest friends (we met in kindergarten) and his awesome wife and his awesome daughter. They are generously putting me up for this unknown period of time while I do something I screwed up and didn't finish 20 years ago, and this time finish getting my pilot's license.

Oh yeah. Also, I wobbled the line on my Northeastern US liberal credentials by buying an 'assault weapon' (according to my city government). Well, I didn't actually buy it - a friend in another state bought it for me, and retains possession of it. Specifically, I acquired a vintage M1 Garand World War II battle rifle, and I plan to spend time over the next few weeks and months learning to maintain it, shoot it, and reload ammunition for it. More about that after tomorrow, when I get to go meet my new gun for the first time.

I'm hoping that this change of pace will allow me to feel better about myself. I'd realized I hadn't really had a vacation from New York City since moving there the week my mother passed away in January 2008. Four years is a long time to spend in that town without really getting away for more than a long weekend of personal time or week or so of business travel. I love it dearly, and it's the only place that's home; but I'm coming to realize that my existence there is somewhat toxic. It's too solo, and too disconnected, and too routinized in a rut that was formed at one of most unhappy periods of my life - and the echoes of that unhappiness are still with me, four years later. I'm old enough that those echoes have me despairing of ever looking back on my life and seeing anything except a long series of missed opportunities and a cautionary tale for my nephews - and I don't want that to be my fucking legacy. I don't want that to be my story.

So, the pilot's license. Twenty years ago I almost completed it - and I mean almost. I had finished my written and finished my long solo cross-country flight. I was maybe 3 flights from taking my final check ride. I never did. Why? A host of reasons, some good, some bad. The most valid one was that I was accepted to graduate school, and moved 250 miles from my flight school as well as quit my paying job. That will put the kibosh on flying lessons, let me tell you. I kept saying 'Oh, I'll do it this summer.'

Bad idea.

So here I am. I'm older (I'd say 'old' now, but some people on this site would jeer at me, probably with cause) and have now 'failed to complete' several important goals I set for myself, ones that hobble my memory and turn my life over the past ten or fifteen years into a crapfest that brings an involuntary rictus of pain to my face when I think about how badly I've wasted it. If you've hung out with me, you've probably seen it.

I need to change that.

So, step one. Pilot's license. This time, finish. No fucking excuses. I have the money. I have the time - my job (fortuitously) is out of desk space at our New York offices and is urging eligible employees (of which I am one) to 'work remotely' for a few months. One of the advantages of being an internet cloud knowledge worker - I can do my job from pretty much anywhere as long as I have a decent net connection. So I'm going to do that, and if necessary burn vacation days when the weather is nice in the afternoon and I can go flying.

On alternate days, I plan to learn to shoot a 30-06 semiautomatic battle rifle with some semblance of familiarity, ease and accuracy. I'll settle for one out of three, but I'm going to aim for all of the above.

I have another few days of frantic errands to do. My second-oldest friend, at whose house I keep my Triumph TR6, just announced suddenly that he is moving across the country with his wife and has rented out that house and that the car must evacuate forthwith. Totally cool - he and his wife have sheltered the beast for years. This week I plan a surgical strike back across state lines (although not to NYC) to get the car registered and find another place for it to live - hopefully with my father in yet another state, one within driving range. I dunno, we'll see. Oh, and then family Seder is coming up in a couple of weeks, nu?

The brass ring, here, is that I am grimly intent on starting at the gym next week (when I get back and settle into the rhythm). There are. No. More. Excuses. I'm unhealthy, I feel like crap, and honestly - probably 90% of my feeling 'old' can be attributed to this hundred extra pounds of fat I'm lugging around with myself. Maybe 140 pounds. Hopefully i can use this change-up to get myself started.

Wish me luck.

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