high-amplitude square waves.

This is a square wave. This does well as a mathematical model for my day. Note how it squiggles noncommittally for a little while, then suddenly crashes downward for no reason, squiggles in the negative, bounces back up, crash back down. Bang. Bang. Bang. You can imagine my mind being rudely yanked from one emotional extreme to another, much like unfortunate cartoon characters in fast-moving elevators who get alternately slammed against the floor and ceiling.

Last night I confirmed my suspicion that while I'm getting to be in much, much better physical shape, I'm not quite to "let's go to aikido two nights in a row" kind of physical shape--even though it was "just" weapons practice, I'm seriously achey. I'm also still messing up my shoulder, which is frustrating; I think maybe it strikes me as a personal flaw, that there's something wrong with my shoulder that gets set off by rolling on it. Kayla-Sensei said she'd work with me on it a little bit tomorrow before class; I dunno if that will happen, because Kayla-Sensei, while kind and open and generous, is also a bit of a flake. This is Northern California, though, so not only is that expected, but we try not to worry about it too much.

Surprise! The Commonwealth of Massachusetts finally noticed that I didn't file a tax return for 1999, and when I didn't answer their first bit of fan mail, they decided to go ahead and do it for me. Unfortunately, that year I had three different employers in two different states, and for one of them, the time I was working out here, I made a fairly substantial amount of money; the Commonwealth's assessment comes from the gross income on my federal return, which is $16,000-$18,000 more than I made when I could be considered a Massachusetts resident (depending on whether you count me as a resident when I was out here as an intern). It's my own doing, of course, but fortunately the Noncompliance Division of the Department of Revenue is actually quite friendly and helpful, and I just have to file a return as a Part-Year Resident, by October 28th. This is of course the same thing Dad told me, because Dad's been doing insanely complicated (by my standards, certainly, since I either buy software or pay somebody else to understand this stuff so that I can more quickly go back to sleep) tax work in Massachusetts for nigh on thirty years now. If Dad and the Department of Revenue agree then I should absolutely get off my ass. Especially since they're assessing me for two months' rent.

Someone speaks up.

Today I:

Rather less startling were some letters from my grandmother in Grass Valley, who I should really visit in the next few weeks, since I haven't seen her in months.

Peg was cranky, far crankier than me on a bad day, I think, and plenty willing to let it shine in conversation. That seems to happen as you get older, and she was already pretty old when I was born; she was 93 when she died, and absolutely did not have anyone she needed to impress. I walked into her room at the nursing home once and her first words were "My, you've gotten stout!" (as far as weight comments went I think I got the polite end of the stick, actually). Especially after she went into the nursing home with her husband (Jack, of 60-something years, which is another whole few paragraphs I'm not going to go into), every time I saw her she would give me money. Sometimes significant quantities of money. Not "here, go buy yourself a car" kind of money, but definitely "way more pizza than I could stand to eat in two or three months" kind of money. She had some kind of a thing for crisp new bills, too, possibly from having lived through the Depression and feeling that now that she had money, it was going to be dignified, classy money; I think she had her friend Robert go to the bank and get new bills for her.

For a while (in my unwise youth) I tried to argue with her about it, especially as we both got older and the money she gave me would buy more and more pizza. You might spot the two problems there: first, I was trying to argue with Peg, and second, I was trying to argue with Peg when she was being generous. She would get genuinely mad and annoyed until I backed down, and with time I eventually learned to shut the hell up and put the money in my pocket and move on with the conversation. The money usually came with advice: "Don't spend it on beer or women". Which I don't think I did, generally.

I was told repeatedly not to bother getting married until I was thirty.

I've been fortunate enough to only have a couple of people near me die. And it's been a strange thing...over her last three years or so, I would see Peg and tell her the next time I'd see her, typically following schedules of school holidays, and she'd say "See you then, if I'm still here". So I was probably as prepared as anyone gets to be (I mean, somebody's 93 and in a nursing home, you'd have to be in denial or really oblivious to not be thinking that the end is in the foreseeable future), and I'm hardly given to hysterics anyway...but there's still the loss, even if you're ready for it, and the loss doesn't go away, you just sort of get used to it and move on. And sometimes the feeling stands up and pokes you in the forehead before going back to sleep in its little corner of your mind.