Switching Costs

Carrie is helping out around the house more. She really stepped up, so even though we're both carrying heavy burdens, we take turns lifting them off each other's shoulders whenever we can spare the strength. This has enabled me to do quite a bit this week. I launched my 3D printer hub, I applied for some more jobs, I followed up with some friends, and I started a web development tutorial called Free Code Camp.

I've been driving cars for 15 years. Most of my driving style was developed in Edmonton, and after moving to Calgary five years ago, I'm still not used to the way people drive around here. One difference I noticed was that in Edmonton, people generally drove the speed limit or slower. Maybe your traffic experience is different, but the routes I took during those years, this observation came up quite a bit. I adapted my driving to weave around people, changing lanes somewhat frequently. That hasn't really panned out in Calgary, where I noticed that more people will speed up to keep you from entering their lane. In Edmonton, I always wondered why people were so reluctant to change lanes. Having worked at a telephone company and learning a bit about computer networking, there is an inherent cost to changing paths in your routing. It's little wonder that an internet company like Google would get into Maps, which would seem like a pretty random choice. They're experts at finding the fastest route for packets, moving massive amounts of information, so there's a lot of carryover to routing large amounts of people. Even though mathematically, the shortest path between two opposing corners of a rectangle is through the hypotenuse, in driving, the better path can be the one with fewer turns, depending on the number of turns and the overall distance, amongst other things.

In the car, turning that often like in the red path can have a lot of adverse effects. I personally don't prefer it because it makes me dizzy. The blue path is a more gentle ride.

I touched on this concept a little bit with my post called Begin Again (Begin Again), but I'd like to expand on it in a different area.

It's hard to switch lanes, even if the current path you're on is unhealthy. In Newtonian physics, it's called inertia. An object in motion wants to stay in motion and a stationary object wants to stay put unless a force acts on them. In humans, we get fixed in our ways. Even if I'm used to eating lots of fast food, it becomes a ritual and I keep at it. If I'm in an unfavourable relationship, I want to stay in it. Sometimes being happy means learning to live in the mess, and at the same time, it can also mean rolling up your sleeves to clean it up.

Since my engineering co-op work terms, I've only ever needed to work one job, but now it looks like I'll need to get multiple. Tons of people have to do this, but it's a switch for me. A lot of professionals have multiple jobs anyways, but I never had to. We all play different roles based on contexts. It's fine being in the same situation as everyone else, but the switch has not had a soft landing. A friend helped secure a corporate interview for me, but the position won't be opening until June. It's still a big development and opportunity for me given the bleak landscape. Things haven't been going so great, so I really appreciate that my friend went to bat for me to get my resume in the hiring manager's hands. On the other hand, I've got a few small projects and gigs lined up through friends. I launched my 3D printer hub, and I already got a couple orders in. Even as I'm trying to scrape some money together through various lines of work, I still structure my day as though I work in a 9-5 office job. Switching costs.

I switch between house spouse and job hunter pretty frequently. As I've mentioned before, I really don't have an ego about being a stay at home husband, but it would have to be my only job. I would love for Carrie to make enough so that I could spend all day housemaking, but we're not there yet. Most people look at my job situation and give me pointers on how to find work. All great ideas, but the emotional labour of sitting in the marriage alone has been dragging me down these past few months. Most days, I don't leave the house, which makes my home into an office. It's hard consciously separating my home life from my work, which was easier to do with my last job because when I worked from home, I could just close my laptop at the end of the day. When I worry about how Carrie and I will both survive until her graduation date, these thoughts wake me up early and my work day suddenly starts at 4:45 AM. She really picked up the slack, so it's made my job hunt a lot easier.

With her creating some breathing room for me, I've been able to take control again. One nice achievement this week was hitting a new weight milestone. It's been slowly dropping since I started going to the gym four months ago while my muscles have been growing. I've been thinning out, and my various muscle groups just feel meatier. I haven't really even cleaned up my eating, like how some fitness junkies weigh their food or only eat chicken and fish. I have my diet under control, even though a few nights this week I just didn't eat dinner at all. Sometime in the last month or so, I became interested in cooking. Not necessarily for my health but because it seems kinda cool in a scientific, chemical way. A few years back, I was introducing myself to someone at work who was visiting Calgary for a few days. When I told him I loved to eat, that any vacation for me was about eating my way around the world, he asked "Oh you like to eat? What do you like to cook?" I replied "I don't understand the question." I like eating out and to have other people prepare nice meals for me, but I'm also starting to enjoy making my own. When you cook, you can make it taste more or less how you want. What an insightful discovery. Man, am I only turning 29 this year? I'm so smart. Alas, it's kind of a new interest for me, whereas it wasn't even that I didn't like cooking before. I just wasn't into it. This week, I don't think my cooking even helped me reach my new weight as much as the part about not eating dinner since I was playing Zelda for 10 hours straight. Something something Nintendo Switch cost.

Sometimes in a relationship, you want to take out your frustrations on the other person. Everything in the world suddenly becomes their fault, or you just start torturing them because it makes you feel better. I've certainly antagonized Carrie a lot this past week while she tried to unwind from her work day by watching The Good Wife. (There's an ironic joke here somewhere.) I would just get in her face or block the TV. Start dancing sensually for no reason. Make her pay attention to me. Ask her to compliment my hot new bod or give me credit for tidying. Sometimes I'll sit next to her and play Breath of the Wild on the Wii U GamePad while she watches TV, and then I'll use the GamePad's built in TV remote to change the input to my game. You know, just kind, loving stuff a spouse should do to support their partner. I haven't really been using Carrie as a stress ball like this for a long time, so it's fun being able to bother her again. I don't think she appreciates it though.

I put my heart and soul in this game. I'm feeling drained. Unappreciated, unalleviated. People like to talk to me about just my job search, like minimizing my problems makes it easier. There's an inherent switching cost when you're trying to change your behaviours because of human inertia. We are creatures of habit, and people with trauma especially tend to have repetitive behaviours. My troubles amount to more than just the job situation. There are a ton of changes taking place right now, and I'm glad that Carrie is back to help me deal with them.

Jonathan Phan Lê @jon_le