the world you don't want to face is in your head.

I think I need to not drink any alcohol any more: I just had a single, watery beer at Jorm and Gnat's Halloween party (no costume for me, as usual) and I feel like ass, with a slight headache and a feeling like all of my sore muscles and joints got a little worse. I think it's enormously unfair that I can't simultaneously do something as healthy as aikido and still comfortably drink myself into oblivion to avoid my problems for a few hours, but hey, life is unfair. Of course, over the past couple of months alcohol has failed to function as any kind of meaningful retreat, and I'm back to the wonderfully balanced state I've been in previously, where my problems manage to stay forward in my consciousness no matter what substances I might be ingesting.

I have these days, where everything is too much and there's nothing I can do right now to relieve the pressure...a lack of hope, I guess. An inability to see a change coming. I have to remind myself that things won't always be as they are now, which is true...but in the meantime, it's entirely possible I'll run out of money. Then again, I might not: my current hopes are on a job with a company down in Jack London Square (maybe a 15 minute bike ride from home), which I was already planning to work at pretty hard, but then Kermit said he worked at a show where the band was all employees, including the hiring manager, so I will follow through with my plan to drop off a hardcopy resume on Monday and maybe find a way to namedrop. If the people and the work are sane, this company has a very high coolness level: extremely close to home, profitable, always hiring--they're an online multi-city erotic entertainment guide.

Maybe I'm a little odd for wanting to be able to put that in the alumni notes for Loomis (New England small private secondary school) and Skidmore (small Northeast liberal arts college in the process of selling out in hopes of greater glory), both places whose diversity of alumni careers really, really should include someone working in the adult entertainment industry.

Hey, there's activity at Fenton's Ice Cream on Piedmont Avenue! This is very exciting, because (a) it's probably the best ice cream in the Bay Area, and (b) the building was gutted by fire and they were supposed to reopen in April, possibly earlier. The drama behind this is that one of the employees stole a whole bunch of money and then torched the building, thereby making us all very sad. But there are workmen going in and out and doing stuff, and they painted a banana split and a new "Yes, dammit, we're finally going to reopen in December, for real this time" sort of message on the boards covering the windows (when the boards were put up they were painted the same yellow as the rest of the building, so at least it doesn't look nasty), in nice script lettering. So while December is likely to be suboptimal ice cream weather, it's something to look forward to.

So I flaked on a chance to see Eddie From Ohio on Friday night, choosing instead to follow my intention to go to aikido class and then to dinner with the dojo gang (if I wanted to make you work for it I'd say aikidoka, which is just "aikido practitioners") afterward. So I did my five days of training in a row, and I'm pretty sure it's not a good idea, especially when I'm not sleeping well. Aikido creates energy--there's a story about O-Sensei (the founder) that when he was near death, some students really wanted to see him give a demonstration. He had to be carried onto the mat on a stretcher, but for twenty minutes or so he demonstrated moves and you couldn't tell there was anything wrong with him. Then he had to be carried off the mat again. So I got some good practice in but was completely exhausted before and after.

    Aikido is nothing but an expression of the spirit of Love for all
    living things.
                      -- Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei

There's a kind of beautiful simplicity to learning things. There's a vulnerability in not knowing, and a challenge in having to understand, and also a freedom from worrying about where I'm going. I have to study and be prepared for my 6th kyu test, but Kayla-Sensei has a good view on what I need to learn and when's a good time for me to start learning it. Generally I don't have the problem of worrying about a plan of any sort; my learning and progression and skill are all best served by focusing on what I'm doing at any given moment. It's a shift of responsibility that is a bit of a relief.

Another curious thing is how interesting and helpful it is to have different teachers. They're all good, but they all bring different histories and perspectives not only from their training, but from who they are, and if I'm having difficulty, that different perspective can have the insight I need. Kayla-Sensei wasn't having much luck helping me do rolls without hurting my shoulder and suggested I ask Brandon, one of the black belts (2nd dan, I think). Brandon tends to frame things in the metaphor of motion, of whether a motion is sudden and a little jerky, or (the goal) so smooth that "it doesn't have a moment where it begins". While that's a huge concept to wrap my mind around, that with a demonstration was helpful enough that I can do low rolls without pain. This morning was interesting, too, with a black belt from another dojo: we did a bunch of things that Sensei doesn't usually do, like hanmi-handachi, where the attacker is standing and the defender is on his or her knees.

I got called for jury duty Monday. I've been called twice before: once in Massachusetts after I'd moved, so I wasn't eligible, and once here in California, which I forgot about, and since I haven't been arrested during any of my subsequent motor vehicle moving violations, I've assumed that I wouldn't have needed to show up.

I watched most of Stigmata today, and it got me to thinking about something Mona asked me: why do all the pictures of Christ's Crucifixion show him nailed through the palms, when we know that Roman crucifixion victims were nailed through the wrists, since the palms can't support the weight? And when did the practice start, of showing it as the palms? My best guess is that crucifixion art didn't start until the Middle Ages, in the 900 CE timeframe, when the details of Roman crucifixion would have been long-lost in the past. But I don't know.

Do you know how the dessert fork evolved? I'm dying to know. Please tell me.