please unstaple your hand from your forehead.

It's been a mostly lovely week so far, spending some nice time with the loved one, and learning not to care about work so much, or about aikido. Well, "not care" is the wrong phrase. I think what I really want is "let go of". To not worry about the various quirks and downers of work; not be concerned with testing and ranking in aikido.

Work has not been an especial source of joy recently (of course, you could easily argue that's why it's called "work"), with a lot of pressure to get a lot of things done in what is inevitably too little time--this is endemic to the production of software, actually, and I/we did well to only come out a couple days late--and feeling like I'm not always respected or taken seriously. That pushes a lot of buttons for me, because my experiences with managers have been pretty uniformly negative. I do care to some extent what other people think of me, but a more present consideration in my mind is that I would like to earn more money than I do, and my getting a raise, if raises are happening in a given year, depends entirely on the higher-ups being happy with me. At Goto, who bought the startup I worked for, I had a persistent conflict with my manager, who was persistently wrong and discounted my opinions because he had a fair amount of experience and confused experience with knowledge and intelligence; I finally decided to leave the company when review time came around again, and after getting a bad first review I had worked hard and done a lot of really great stuff, and I was told explicitly that I would have gotten an Excellent rating, but the woman in charge of HR for the entire company had decided that there was rating inflation from too many people getting Excellent ratings, so she instituted a percentage cap on the number of Excellent ratings any group in the company could have.

It apparently did not occur to her, or she didn't care, that the company just had a lot of very smart, talented, hard-working people, and maybe it was okay to reward them as such.

So anyway, the guy with an extra year of seniority got the Excellent rating, and I got a smaller raise. Nowhere near as bad as The Chronicles of George, certainly, but still an instructive lesson in where work should be in your life priorities: companies will let you work yourself to death, but if you're counting on being rewarded in kind, you're likely to be in for a hefty disappointment. Now I give work an explicitly lower priority than aikido, I very rarely stay more than 9 hours--I've done it once since I started in January--and I make sure I'm out of the office and doing something else by 7pm. I barely touch computers on weekends any more, although it might be nice to pick up a hobby project to keep my mind sharp and do programming more complex than what I get to do at work. Soon my commute will go from 45-90 minutes down to 10, and living in a smaller house, socially located farther off the beaten path, I can keep being a bit of a hermit: I went to a birthday dinner with a bunch of people last night, and while it was fun, I found it exhausting after a short time. I don't really know why, but I do know that avoiding groups is better for me at the moment.

I pulled my back again this morning, doing some innocuous stretching movement. It's like the muscle tangles itself into a hard knot, and then gets pinched in between the spine and the scapula. It hurts like hell, especially so this time, but there are worse things, like anything that goes wrong with my knees. You might say that pulling my back is my favorite injury, because it's just a muscle problem, and I can keep moving and doing stuff even if it hurts a lot--unlike a problem where, say, my knee collapses and won't support my weight.

Life is good. Not unendingly, blissfully happy, but very good.