I'm still a zombie. I feel a bit better about driving, though. I had enough presence today to banter a bit with the loved one, so she thinks I'm coming back from wherever I let my brain go last week. It was a stressful week, from all sorts of directions, and I think I couldn't make it all fit in my mind, so I dissociated a bit and cut down to essential functions of doing aikido and taking care of my body.

I paid rent on the new place today, and moved some more stuff in. It feels very homelike, and the owner/housemate and I are pretty comfortable, so I'm not so worried about the quarters being fairly close compared to what I'm used to (Houseness is pretty mammoth). I should definitely start sleeping there by the end of this week, as I've determined that driving for 45 minutes is absolutely not what I want to do when I get up in the morning.

I made a garlic-marinated tri-tip from Draeger's today, since it turns out there's one right near work. It's huge! There's a second floor full of housewares, including the coolest selection of cooking implements I've ever seen, and lots of nice dishes and things. The tri-tip cooked a bit unevenly, and I think I was impatient about resting it, so while it's quite good I think it could be better. All told, though, I think I prefer teriyaki, which seems to be the absolute perfect marinade for cheaper cuts of beef. I burned my fingers on the thermometer probe, too. I wish someone would tell me that a piece of metal left in the oven will eventually reach the same temperature as the oven. Really, these things should come with warning labels. Maybe I'll sue.

Speaking of which, Mike's father helps run a ranch, and Mike is finally taking him up on his offer of...half a cow. About 215lbs unbutchered, as far as we know, so he's guessing 150lbs of cut meat. Needless to say, there's a barbecue scheduled at his house to use it all up.

Do you ever stop and marvel at the path of your life, that has landed you where you are? You didn't start out like this, did you? When you were a kid you weren't imagining having kids, a car, a house, a job, a spiritual path, were you? I spent most of my life in the quiet (well, kinda boring for the most part) city of Springfield, Massachusetts--the name is still burned into my brain, probably from learning to write my address. I had to memorize it, so it got a rhythm, because I wrote or said it so much. "Springfield, Massachusetts" conjures up an endless stream of memories for me: regattas on the Connecticut river when I was very little (the first time I ever tasted beer, and it was Budweiser and predictably disgusting; also at one point there was a small beach covered in dead fish), the identical buildings of City Hall and Symphony Hall flanking the Campanile clock/bell tower, going to see the symphony on school field trips. A mile or three from my house is Forest Park, the nation's largest municipal park at 750 acres; around my middle school days they had a program called ECOS, that took us out into the park to learn some history and some outdoorsy stuff, like building pine-bough shelters and such. Much of the park used to be the estate of one Everett Barney, who gave it to the city at some point, and if you walk around and just follow the paths you'll come upon ruined gazebos and stone stairs in the hills and gullies (if "gully" is the right word for the steep-sided crevices 10-70 feet deep that wind and cut through the entire park). Forest Park is also near the church I grew up in (the layout of which is also burned into my brain). And I look at the list of parks and remember each one, playing baseball (briefly) and soccer there, or being dragged to watch my brothers play.

The first astonishing thing is that my path has led me 3100 miles away from my given family and a lot of love and those memories of my life, and landed me here in an unlikely and often painful chain of events to continue to be surrounded by a lot of love from a very large chosen family, doing aikido, which feels like something that has just been waiting for me to ripen and find it, and being in a quite lovely and challenging-in-a-good-way relationship. And I am, when I let it be, happy, and as always it strikes me like a bucket of cold water in the morning.

The other astonishing thing is how easy this all this. I wrote a bit once about how when I'm being myself, it feels like I'm not being anyone in particular. It's a void, but it's that Zen emptiness that encompasses the universe. You don't have to say "That's an apple!" in order to take a bite out of the fruit on the table, and in fact labeling it really has little to do with the reality of eating it, unless you eat a bit differently than I do. In fact if you're busy talking about the apple it might be much harder to eat it. So if I waste my time saying or thinking that "I am..." one thing or another, that has little to do and interferes with the simple reality of being me. I don't have reasons for most of what I do: it just feels right. I can and do spend hours second-guessing myself, trying to come up with reasons in retrospect, but at my best, fully present in what I'm doing, I'm just doing stuff, it's done, and it's past. If I can just shut up and let the world happen, though, everything works.