peace be upon himramble

February 3, 2006

Golly, I'm feeling pretty stressed these days.

I have to wonder if I miscalculated with my new job, or if it maybe it's some kind of growing pains. Originally I liked the idea of travelling to clients, it seemed like a way of checking out different parts of the country, and generally a good skillset to have career toolbox. But...ugh, something about it isn't right for me. It's kind of like the pressure of a new job repeated in a more condensed form, all the unknown expectectations lurking in the corners again and again. Clients can be painfully aware of what they're being charged for your services in an hourly kind of way, and so unless you're really an expert in the task at hand, you have to fake it. And I'm not terrific at faking it, the geek sin of preferring directness over spin coming to haunt me.

It's a challenging role. While I think I'm a smart guy, and I'm getting to know our product well, I'm also asked to achieve results quickly in platforms that are new to me, and I guess I've always been a guy preferring to do things from scratch in a language I know inside and out than apply another new toolkit.

Some of it might be a particularly pushy and demanding client my first time out... this trip to Washington DC is with a much better known quantity to my company, a long relationship with friendly people. Still, I'm almost wondering what I'm going to be doing there for a full damn week...I mean I assume some of that is just getting started on work that could theoretically be done back at the home office, because I think afew days is going to exhaust what I'm bringing to the table. (Luckily there will be a veteran from my company there for the first two days, just like Texas was with two other guys.)

Heh, I remember back in 2000, there was this consultant from the big Java company him Joe. Joe knew about EJB, and could show us that (even though it was probably too late in the project for us to switch to that technology (thank goodness, but that's a different story)) but seemed to be kind of fumbling in most other things. I'm really worried about coming across as another Joe.

And that worry...I'm getting a fair-sized stress reaction, "stomach" upset, tightness in my lower back, some sleeplesness. I don't know at what point I should be worried for my health with this...I'm half tempted to go buy a blood pressure monitor just to make sure I'm not doing too badly in that department. My family noticed darker rings under my eyes...

...and it's tough to know what part of that stress reaction is justified, and how much is just circular logic. I think there are logical reasons to feel more confidence than I generally do in many of these cases (but not all! Which makes it tougher.) I almost wish I could find courage in some kind of convenient pill form. Prozac Nation or what not. But then there's a part of my that rails against that kind of thinking, that good old will-power and/or logic and/or some sort of environment change can get me out of this funk.

Some aspect of it too seems to be the Winter, S.A.D.-lite. In a way I hadn't observed in myself before, I generally just want to sleep. It's hard to tell how much of that is seasonal, how much is from some stress-y nights of less sleep, or what. It's starting to irritate Ksenia though.

I have no idea if it's even an option, but Mr. Ibis (I think) once mentioned his company is hiring, down in Florida. I get weird fantasies of moving down there and having a "perfect" sunny life for a while, even though it's not like he's not working hard at his job there too. (I've worked at companies with him before, he's a lot of fun.) I know this outlook is just escapism, a total denial about how stressful a big move would be, completely missing the point of how many people I'd be leaving behind, especially my family, Ksenia, old school exchange for being in close proximity with two or maybe three close buddies. And the sunlight. In a cultural...well, maybe not a wasteland, but it ain't Boston either.

So it's a learning time for me. Maybe I'm learning I like bigger companies that don't ratchet up the pressure quite so much. On the other hand I know at those companies I can start to drift and not get enough work done. (On the other other hand... we only get one life, if you can mitigate a 9-5 job by pursuing slackish asides...maybe that's a bit of a blessing. Albeit one you don't want to rely on too much.)


Observations and even advice welcome.

News of the Moment
So there's that big flap over some cartoons depicting Mohammed in Europe. I know I'm at risk of being culturally insensitive here, but it just seems so odd... They say that for some sects, any likeness is forbidden, though it would be disenguous to say that the pointed satirical nature of the cartoon isn't adding a lot of fuel to the fire. I mean it's not like there's anyway it could actually look like the prophet, given that it's forbidden to reproduce his image for so long. (Which would indicate that a stickfigure with an arrow saying "this is him" might be problematic.) Theoretically the taboo arises from the need to prevent idolatry, though in practice it doesn't sound like the masked gunmen are really concerned the faithful will begin worshipping a cartoon.

Then again, "sacredness" is not a concept that I generally have a strong intuitive feel for, so maybe I should leave the topic alone.