I title these journal entries. I try to give them meaningful titles, I suppose because I want this to mean something. My teachers got me in the habit of titling things: in high school they took off points if I didn't put titles on my papers. So I did, although they often were only tangentially related to the topic of the paper. I continued this into college, where I labeled one of my better ones, for a Government class senior year, about the US relationship with China, "Mao's It Going?".
I have been blessed with marvelous teachers over the years who happened also to be tolerant, and recognized that the title was just a convention, and took my papers for what they were.
Google finally got back to me. All explicit signs to the contrary, they're not interested in me at the moment: they have a flood of applicants with five times my experience, all applying for the same job, so they're taking their time picking from an enormous pool of talent. Sad to say this is not unexpected, because I know what the industry is like right now, and Google not only attracts the best people but has a reputation for being slow and picky. For a variety of reasons, I'm not holding my breath that they would hire me even in a better job-hunting market. However, the HR people are very nice. Tell them I said hello.
I did make my Chicken Tikka Masala, and I'm sad to say it just didn't come out very well. It's a bit sour on account of all the ginger, an especial irony because I don't even like ginger. On top of not tasting very good, it was an awful lot of work, so I think I'm just going to stay with the canned and jarred Patak's Tikka Masala Cooking Sauce, which takes about an hour (instead of two days) and tastes much, much better. I think we also get Indian food at work pretty regularly, so I'll just bring leftover dishes, and there's always restaurants.
That's right, I started work. I'm a contract employee for OneSecure in Sunnyvale. It's a bit of a hike, about an hour's drive each way without traffic, but it's money. I think I also save a bunch by way of free food: lunch is catered in Monday through Thursday, and the kitchen is remarkably well-stocked, even with food that's not necessarily bad for you. There's also Guinness and a few other beers in the fridge. There's a refreshing honesty about the company, and a lack of the religious fervor that characterized my last job and so many other startups in the Bay Area. You may never have seen it: the hollowed face of the employee (maybe more often manager or executive) who believes, who has flipped the Magic Belief Switch inside which is so essential (in every sense) to our humanity, who explains with a frantic look in his eyes how the company's groundbreaking technology will revolutionize (how people think|how people work|how people clean their sinks|whatever), eyes flitting back and forth, looking at you, trying to see if you get it, if you have the vision.
Now, there are jobs which improve the world. Most of them don't, and I have come to believe that the acceptance of a certain nihilism in your work ethic is key to happiness in most jobs. Maybe not to the extreme of Office Space, but that movie has a lot of good points, like the fact that we're trading precious time of our lives for...what? It's important to be aware of what you're doing. Ultimately this all comes down, as the late Douglas Adams wrote, to the movement around of little green pieces of paper. You, the employee surrendering moments of your life, do not get near these pieces of paper. These pieces of paper belong to "the Corporation", a vague entity with more rights and powers than a human being, in which you likely have no share.
So why are you working so hard? Is there a definite attainable goal--e.g., as happens around here, that you have stock options and if the company can be hugely successful, you can be hugely rich and not have to work any more? The near-future possibility of not having to work any more is a pretty good reason to shell out some effort. But make sure you think of what you'll have left over when that time comes. Will you have destroyed your body? Your relationships? Will you be putting things off, or throwing them away entirely?
Companies don't care about you. It's not inconceivable that the people in the companies care about you, but the absolute sole purpose of a corporation is to make money, and if it must chew up and digest human beings in order to produce profit (kind of like a cow chewing grass to produce milk, only on a larger scale), it will. If needed and if it were possible, a corporation, composed of people acting in that corporation's best interest, would quite literally kill you without a second thought. If you think I'm overstating the case, then you forget your history, some of which is quite recent: early attempts at unionization all the way up to current or more recent cases of lethal pollution, such as the Union Carbide accident in India in 1984 that killed 3800 people, or the PG&E case detailed in Erin Brockovich. If killing you is either an unavailable or unnecessary option, they will simply use you. A company can suck more life than you can give.
Your defense, since the government is generally a corporation of its own, is simply not to care. Direct your energy elsewhere. Give your workday to your employer--if you make it a long workday, make sure it's for a good reason. But keep your soul. Keep your love for something or someone that can be trusted with it. Give yourself truly to God, to the service of your fellow human beings, to the one or two or three or a hundred people who deserve it or need it. It's the only way to survive--to live.