Bwahahahahaha. Check out point #3.
So on Thanksgiving (Thursday) I arrived in Grass Valley a little early, and discovered that I could not buy a cup of coffee, because all the coffee shops were closed. Every bar was open (this is at 11 AM) with people in it, so if I'd just wanted to get drunk, I would have been set. But no coffee. Finally I got a made-from-powder mocha from the machine at the 76 station, which was sufficient, but sheesh.
I've been hiding in my house today, very, very tired. I've had so much people interaction in the past week--the contract work, then Thanksgiving, then Angstgiving. The definition of "introvert" has nothing to do with social skills: it has to do with whether one draws his energy from social contact, or from time spent alone, and I am and always have been squarely in the latter camp. I have fine social skills, lots of friends, and I enjoy hanging out with people, but at the end of the day, that contact really drains my energy, and I need to spend time alone (or maybe alone with Mona) to recharge. After the first cocktail party while I lived here, when I was active and social and outgoing for seven hours, I was exhausted. For three days. Sleeping ten hours a day.
I did haul my ass to aikido this morning, though, the last thing to do before hibernating for a few days. Carolina, one of our uchi-deshi (a student who more traditionally lives inside the dojo proper, but in any event goes to every class and spends time there outside of class and probably has other responsibilities as well), was teaching, since Kayla-sensei is out of town, so class was a bit different. We did one exercise where someone pushes on your hip while you walk, which helps you notice if you're not moving from your center, turning your hips and walking with your entire body aligned, instead of leading with your torso or your legs. Then we did the same exercise with bokken (wooden sword) strikes, and my partner said "Your movement is much more coordinated with the sword, it's really interesting"; and she's right, I have a much easier time moving and staying centered and balanced when I'm holding a weapon. Barehanded I'll often lose my balance, especially with fast spinning movements. It is interesting, although I'm not sure if there's any really deep lesson there, since aikido weapons training is specifically meant to complement the unarmed training in just about every way. One of the neat things weapons help with is the feeling of extending yourself: if you treat the weapon as something separate from your body, it becomes much more awkward and slow and weak, whereas if I, for example, concentrate on blending with the staff, and using it as an extension of my energy in the same way I would use my hand, my actions with it are as swift and decisive and effective as my barehanded techniques would be (in my case probably more so, because I've been working with a staff one way or another since about 1991, but I only have a few months of experience doing anything unarmed). (A weapon will also let you handle at least two to four times more attackers, if it comes to that--one guy from the dojo who's been in the Phillipines for a while reports that with his staff he's been able to fend off packs of wild dogs on several occasions.)
I was playing with energy yesterday, with one of the plants outside. My ability to feel ki clearly at this point is about four inches away at most, so I was practicing running my hand around the plant with my eyes closed, just trying to feel the energy of it. And it worked, which I think is pretty neat.
Hmm. Exhausted, a little lonely, unemployed, mostly single, worried about loved ones; but well-loved, surrounded by close friends, centered, changing, learning the endless lessons of aikido, becoming more what I want to be, and with some prospects for employment. I'm doing okay.