Slow day. My primary tasks at the moment are getting my 1999 Massachusetts tax return ready, cleaning the house, and taking care of other money things like shifting the ever-increasing credit card debt to a zero-interest card, and getting EDD set up (Employment Development Department, California's unemployment agency). The latter looks to be quite the adventure, since I got a letter today indicating that they based my claim on the money I made from UCSB from March to June, which is about $750, which is too little for me to get an EDD benefit. In other words, there's a chance I have to wait another one to three months to get unemployment benefits. God dammit.

Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed. That's been happening a lot recently, which is why I'm not so worried about staying in bed until noon.

Not that I'm discouraged or anything.

I'd ask why I live here, but the answers are obvious and come as soon as I ask the question: this is where my friends and communities are, and tech work will be even harder to find anywhere else. I'm going to need to find some kind of work, though, if I can't get unemployment.

Aikido tonight was a nice break, as always. I haven't been rolling recently, to protect my shoulders--in the process of doing a forward or backward roll there's a moment where my entire body weight is on some part of my shoulder. It's just a moment, but I think it happens even if you do rolls correctly (which I don't generally); something inside the joint doesn't like that, especially on the right side. After class I stayed and I did manage to do a few without pain, starting low by kneeling on the mat, so I know it can be done. But that and talking to Bruce, who said he had the same problem when he started, lends credence to my theory that the musculature around the shoulder joint is just not strong enough to support my weight--I weigh around 200 pounds now, which, as I repeatedly discover, is pretty heavy. I'm bothered by the inability to do rolls, but I'll just rest my shoulders as much as I can stand for as long as it takes, and try to not be bothered by it. I'm also bothered because I'd like to take my kyu (level) test at some point (Kayla-Sensei would also like me to take my kyu test at some point), and rolling is part of the test...but she's the sensei and can probably let me skip those if she wants. That's not wholly unreasonable if I can do the rest of it well (I'd give you a link, but it's just a list of Japanese terms that I can barely keep track of myself, let alone try to explain to anyone else, unless shomen-uchi ikkyo omote waza or morote dori kokyu ho have any meaning for you). If someone (e.g. me) is progressing and being able to do the moves properly, it's not wholly sensible to hold against them some physical problem they're having; in fact there's a woman who doesn't do any rolling or falling because of a head condition (and she teaches a couple other martial arts in her own right).

But I like aikido. The aikido ranks go from 10th kyu up to 10th dan; the kyu levels are decreasing and the dan levels are increasing. Adults start at 7th kyu by default [don't ask me why], but as far as I can tell no one ever says that. The dan ranks are ascending and are the black belt ranks. There aren't any other colors. It's great to have black belts in class, because you learn a lot faster working with someone who already knows what they're doing (I wonder sometimes if this doesn't get a little tedious for them sometimes--when do they get to do the really advanced stuff? but class splits into advanced and not-so-advanced sections around the middle of class). They tend to be really friendly and helpful, which I imagine to be some combination of years of training in O-Sensei's "joyful spirit", and probably some self-selection--there are apparently angry and bitter practitioners of aikido (the aforementioned martial arts teacher suggested Angry White Pajamas as a somewhat saddening account of a more brutal form of aikido use by the Tokyo Riot Police), but it seems unlikely that those would be found (a) in Berkeley, and especially (b) in Kayla-Sensei's dojo.

Enh. What do I know, I can't even find a job.

    I like autumn
    the capricious weather
    the smell, the clean crisp smell
    of fallen leaves in the woods
    of apple cider days away from the tree
    it smells of a midweight jacket and blue jeans,
    and no more sandals.

    The air promises snow someday,
    and cold before that;
    warm fires and drafty windows
    a laconic marshmallow of a dog
    yellow with human eyes
    deigning to let you pet him.

    Out the window
    (bird TV)
    New England's stubby ancient hills
    house bright red cardinals
    endless tiny chickadees
    or a vaguely confused woodpecker.

    I miss it,
    the unreasonable marriage of puritan stuffiness
    and dogged liberal reticence.
    Soft green hills
    that smell of wet in springtime
    and stay green until the fall.

I could be harshly self-critical at this point, but you probably think it's a fine poem, and I'm not going to undermine an audience's good impression (I can still perform properly, if nothing else).

(My poetry hasn't improved that much since high school.)

(I'm going to bed now.)