Inbetweener’s dilemma

I admire knowledge.
Knowledge is the most valuable asset.
Stuff that makes me beautiful outside doesn’t interest me.
But that doesn’t mean I go outside with sweat pants and hoodie on. That’s just unsophisticated, uncivilized behavior.
What matters to me is what fills my and other people’s brain.
I love studying. Not in terms of studying for a class or exam. I love learning. It’s the most beautiful, purest, highest level of art that humans can perform.
As a little girl, I spent hours reading a set of encyclopedia. I’d read or sometimes just flip through. But either was like a visit to the Disneyland to me.

I encounter smart people everyday. I’m not always sure if they ARE smart or they sound smart but I can’t help feeling extremely jealous either way. That’s probably why “Housewives of wherever” get into a fight. I didn’t watch it but I see commercials and they literally do the cat fight, which I’m guessing all started with a tiny jealousy factor.
That’s how I feel when I talk to a smart”er” person.
Once, someone told me “You’re pretty smart, almost as smart as Jane Doe. And you’re definitely much prettier than Mary Doe.”
It was a compliment but I got super offended by the first part. It didn’t matter that someone complimented my appearance. It’s not because I’m half empty glass person. I do hate the fact someone thinks I’m not smart”er” than the other person, although there’re indeed countless smarter people.

smart me
Wish my portrait would be like this.

One might have zero creativity but figure all the rocket science in the blink of an eye, while others might be super creative but completely dumb when it comes to numbers.
But neither is my case. I’m fairly objective and creative as well. Am I smart and talented? Developed both right and left brain? No. It’s having a no real talent. It’s being not good enough for either.
I haven’t been benefited much from the fact that both sides of my brain work equally well.
It’s a dilemma I call “too logical to be creative and too emotional to be rational.”

My nickname in Korea was psycho, meaning weirdo and “special.” – the word psycho is not as harsh in Korea as it might sound in countries where English is an official language.
I thought a war in my head was because of my uncontrollable creativity, too much emotion, and craziness.
But recently I realized I’m not crazy enough to release my craziness. I’m too logical and realistic to free my creativity, to free myself. That was the reason of The Hundred Years War in my head.

Over the past few years, I observed myself and realized intelligent people inspire me more than creative people do. So I wanted to focus on nourishing my left brain so I can be super logical and objective.
I’ve always loved studying since I was a baby anyway. It’d suit me better than trying to become more creative person. Like I enthusiastically read encyclopedia, I still research all kinds of stuff just out of curiosity.

So, I’ve been wishing that somebody would pay me to study. Sort of like an artist commissioned to create an art piece. Maybe working at a research institute?
I’d study and research, study and research. Research, research, research, and research!
How awesome would that be!
But my creativity would interrupt me and I wouldn’t last long.
I’d get distracted like “Can I do this?” and do something unconventional in an academic research environment.
I’d say “Why not?!” “Has someone done something like this yet?”
I know left brainers won’t like things I do and the way I think with my right brain. I know too well about those people. What they want and how they think. Because that’s what my parents do: study and research.
Left brainers don’t understand me and I don’t fit in with them.

Then, why can I just try to become a total right brainer, a real creative person?
I’m not good enough. I’m too rational and think inside the box to be creative. Right brainers think I’m boring.

Now I just want to be the smartest person in the world. Most intelligent person who knows all the scientific phenomena, prospects of the world economy, at least 20 languages I can speak and write like a native, history of tiny villages of little-known countries, etc.
I want to be a walking encyclopedia, a walking Google installed on a super computer!
But at the moment, I’m nobody but an inbetweener trying to juggle between my emotion and logic.

On the border of OCD and detail-oriented

I think I might have OCD. I admit it. But in a good way. I’m not crazy.
I just like to think a lot and when something crosses my mind. I can’t let it go. (Is this crazy?)
The problem is that I think too much. I think too much about the fact that I think too much.
Sometimes it is just too much for me to think that I think about thinking. (Ok…)
For instance, I remember that I had a remote control for a TV that I don’t own anymore. I sold a TV to someone but the person forgot to take the remote control with it. I don’t know why it pops up in my head out of blue. But the thought keeps me from doing anything until I find the remote control.
This really happened to me a few years ago when I was in grad school. That day, I kept thinking about the remote control while I was doing some school work. And when I was done with the assignment, I stayed up until about 1am to find the remote control. Late at night, when I couldn’t find it in a tiny NYC studio apt, I had to force myself to STOP thinking and go to bed for an early morning class the next day. I did fall asleep (Yay!) but I woke up around 3am and instantly started looking for the remote control again, like I was a robot programmed to find something as soon as I was ON.
I think it was around 4 something when I found it, and I don’t think I was able to go back to bed.
I looked like a zombie that day but I was zen and happiest person in the world.

I don’t know if this is a symptom of OCD. I think I’m just extremely detail-oriented, like my parents and grandparents always say.
When I write a paper, I read over and over and make sure of alignment, font style and size for each small section and body.
Before I type, I draw a diagram on a scratch paper to organize how I am going to structure the paper.
When I add footnotes, I make sure where I put a space inbetween, or two spaces for certain info. I compare each footnote and double, triple, quadruple check them even though one space difference between 7pt letters isn’t really noticeable.
Above all, when I was majoring in art, (like I said in my introduction, I draw and sculpt) the best and all-time compliment I got from teachers was the details in expression.
But “Diamond cuts diamond.”

shelf screws

One of many reasons I was attracted to my husband the first time, is that he is as intelligent as I am.
Also, the fact that he was more organized (and also as dorky, quirky as I am), stimulated my curiosity to really get to know him. But after we started the relationship, I realized there’s a big difference between us: he’s detail-oriented and I just have symptoms of OCD.

I’ve moved about 7 times in 4 years in NYC (now you know why I was obsessed to find a remote control.) and took pride in fast, efficient packaging skill. (Not that it’s something to brag about…)
When I packed, I put screws in a plastic bag and carried them with me instead of packing in a box. Because you might not remember which box had the screws. I did this since the first time I’d moved thinking ‘I’m smart.’
Later, I started to tape those plastic bags of screw to where they were unscrewed from.
I never had a problem with a torn plastic bag during the move although I thought about the possibility.
Then, I met my husband who packs 4 screws like the pictures above.

Those are screws for my husband’s printer shelf. They are wrapped (or taped) in a packaging tape. The size of each screw is about 2cm (3/4 inch) or less.
I took these pictures about a month ago when I moved to LA by myself. I was unpacking and when I saw these screws, I grinned and took a picture of them because it’s very much of my husband.
He was planned to move to LA in about 2-3 months so we packed and shipped everything with me, even his desk and chair.
Perfectly wrapped and labeled screws in anti-tearing packaging tapes were of course nowhere but taped onto the printer shelf in the perfect spot for me to notice. Also, the label is not a just piece of paper. It’s a thick, adhesive sticker label.
Other screws for furniture were also perfectly sorted in a zip lock with a label.

This’s his good organizing skill but he’s also very detail-oriented.
Here goes my theory: he’s a good organizer because he’s a detail-oriented person.
I developed this theory by watching him over the past years, and comparing his habits and thought process to those of me.
You can be a good organizer if you’re detail-oriented.
But you can’t be a detail-oriented person just because you’re good at organizing.

I do organize but it’s a bit different from a standard definition of organizing.
A friend of mine back in high school, nicknamed my room “Chaosmos” which means an order in the chaos.
So, according to my theory, I’m not a good organizer, and cannot be a detail-oriented person.
What’s worse but similar to being detail-oriented? Obsessive Compulsiveness.

I don’t need my unscientific theory to willingly make myself look funny. Things I do just tell me that I’m on the border of being detail-oriented and having OCD.
All day yesterday, I looked for a black parting comb. I had this vivid image of seeing it in a bathroom drawer but wasn’t sure if the image was from my current apt, NYC, Greenville, or my parents’ house in Korea last year.
I looked EVERYWHERE. I looked into boxes I had unpacked because I didn’t need the stuff in them yet. I unpacked some of those boxes just to find the comb. I checked the same box over and over to make sure I didn’t miss an inch of every corner inside the box. When I was getting physically tired of looking for it, I sat down and drilled every cell in my brain to come up with more detailed image of last time I’d seen the comb.
I had also texted my mom in the morning asking about the comb. But because of time difference between the U.S and Korea, she didn’t get back to me until I was completely burnt out at night, both mentally and physically. So, I was watching a Korean drama trying to distract myself from thinking about the comb without much success. Close to midnight, my mom texted me “Ya, I see the comb here. Why?”
I was finally and instantly in zen after a “hard labor” all day. A tagline, like something from a movie trailer, was blinking: I wanted to know the truth.
Then believe it or not, I had a dream about the comb last night.
If my mom had said she didn’t see the comb in her house, I would’ve probably kept looking because there’s a 25% of probability that the comb would be in my apartment.
All I needed all day yesterday was my smart, detail-oriented, Confucius husband to tell me
“Just relax. It’ll turn up somewhere. Things always do.”

In-laws

A few years ago, my husband and I were strolling down Beverly and a homeless man, who at that time lived next to a Riteaid, approached us for a quick joke.
He asked “What’s the difference between in-laws and outlaws?” At the same time I ignored him, my kind husband responded with a curious look, so the homeless man answered, “Outlaws are wanted but in-laws are not.”

inlaws

Most sardonic yet realistic way to describe Korean marriage is probably a relationship between evil mother-in-law (aka. MiL) and pitiful victim daughter-in-law (aka. DiL). There are so many cases of conflict between the two, Korean people just seem insensible to this problem nowadays.
When you’re engaged to a Korean man, it’s almost understood that your future MiL doesn’t like you as much as she may seem. As a future DiL you just have to accept the fact.
My Italian friends told me that a MiL/DiL relationship is similar in Italy but a DiL in Italy has a “social approval” to lash out at her MiL, whereas when a Korean DiL gets up against her MiL, no matter what the reason was and who initiated it, it’s usually the DiL who gets all the blame.
If you’re “unlucky,” you also have SiL (bingo! sister-in-law) to deal with. But usually it’s only bad if a SiL is an older sister of your husband. For example, a friend of mine has a younger brother and 3 older sisters. So we make bad jokes about her brother’s future wife who will have to serve 4 SiL. Oh, better example here. My brother, who’s 7 years younger and whom I scolded a lot when he was growing up, once said he will never live in the same province with me when he’s married, and my parents strongly supported his idea…so congrats to a future wife of my bro because she won’t have to deal with the worst case scenario for a Korean DiL: MiL + SiL team.

I bet you a mansion in Malibu that, in any Korean dramas or movies, you will never find a scene that a wife is relaxing while her MiL is working in a kitchen. It’s usually the wife in a kitchen (even if it’s a MiL’s) and the rest of the family enjoying their time together, unless it’s MiL and DiL together in a kitchen.
Oh, and let’s not overlook the fact that MiL will never allow her son in the kitchen to help his wife. In this case, even if the son volunteers to help, the MiL will blame her DiL for making her son (husband) work.
This is not only a MiL/DiL situation but a case of young women/elder women in Korea and other countries that were once influenced by Confucius. You must help the elder or at least be next to her/him for an immediate help.
It’s considered extremely rude and unacceptable to just sit and chill while the elder is working. Even if you don’t know how to do, what to do, or whatever happening has absolutely nothing to do with you, you cannot just sit around while the elder is doing some kind of work. But this latter case is a matter of manner rather than an unfair social convention, like Korean DiL/MiL culture.

It’s hard to understand the social convention on the relationship between Korean MiL/DiL. But I found something even more difficult to understand when I came to the U.S.
Thanks to my parents, I grew up experiencing diverse cultures. And probably because of that, I didn’t really have any cultural shock when I came to the U.S except one: people are not afraid to show their dislike of in-laws.
I had seen movie scenes like “Why is your mom here?! So we can’t go out tonight because of her?!,” “I can’t stand your dad! Tell him to go to a hotel or somewhere!”
I thought it’s just a movie. But soon after I’d moved to the U.S, I realized those scenes were all very real and can happen in this country.
I’m very open-minded person and always eager to learn the new culture, and even adapt to it. But this hatred toward the in-laws, who are actually now your family, is never understandable, not to mention the fact that people express it out loud to their spouse and in-laws.
It might be easy for me to understand if your father-in-law beat up your brother for no reason, or if a MiL hates her DiL just because she feels like the DiL snatched the son away from her, which is most common reason that a Korean MiL treats a DiL with a certain attitude. But because of Korea’s deeply rooted Confucian idea, a DiL can’t defy her MiL for any unfair mistreatments.

It’s not because the bible says “You must love your neighbor as yourself” nor is because you just have to be nice.
You MARRIED your spouse. You are not a co-habitant. The two persons came together, as one family, as a big family all together. You love your own parents and siblings. Then, why are in-laws, in other words a family, such annoying people to you?
You have the right to speak your mind. You can say “I hate your mom” but how would you feel if your spouse says “I hate your dad?”
Whatever your own family did to you, you forgive them or at least try to forget about it. You let it go. Then, shouldn’t you be able to do the same to your in-laws, your new family, even if something bad had happened and you’re mad at them?
You don’t even have a mean-for-no-reason MiL like Koreans to begin with!
People in the U.S don’t realize how less baggages come with a marriage compared to Koreans who are trapped in still very traditional and irrational ideas of marriage!
I know. Words are easy to say. I might not understand how awful it can be because I have very sweet, loving in-laws.
In fact, I have this guilt in the corner of my heart that when we lived in the same town, I didn’t do my best to my “new family” when they provided so much for me.
So if I were to define, it’s more like I’m the evil DiL to my sweet, grateful MiL.
And I thank my Confucius husband for being so nice to my family in Korea.
Actually, it’s funny that, when he visited Korea to meet my family, he did everything very naturally the way that any Korean guys were supposed to do. True resurrection of Confucius!!!

Recently, I read an article about an increasing divorce rate in Korea, which has been a big issue of the country because of the remaining Confucianism. What was surprising and also not so surprising at the same was that 70% of divorce was due to MiL/DiL conflict.
There’s too much to factor in for the solution, and there won’t be just a single solution to Korea’s MiL/DiL relationship. It will take decades to unravel the problem.

Wait, here’s an idea! Korea-U.S government trade can help! Korea doesn’t need any more English teachers from America. But they can import American hippies from the 60’s and learn the spirit of peace and love!

I’m never gonna get hired!!!

blog

“Should you desire money, social status, and the power, have the right blood tie, alumni network, and regional connection.”

This should be written in the Constitution of Korea.
(If you’re asking yourself “Is this North or South?,” you’re the one who needs to follow my blog more than anyone.)

Sure, it might be a common social phenomenon in any capitalism countries.
But I can almost guarantee you that it wouldn’t be as bad as it is in Korea. What I mean by bad is that, in other words, if you don’t have those 3 ties, the chances are you would highly unlikely… (it’s too harsh for me to finish this sentence because I think I fit in the “ellipsis.”)

Studies say that this social custom that values those 3 ties, seems to be originated and passed down from Joseon dynasty (14C) when Confucian idea was dominant. They thought highly of knowledge and family, which in a large form, could be school, mentor, relatives, neighbors you associate daily, and so on.
I’m not a historian and I don’t want to scrape out my historical knowledge from high school. It gives me enough headache to think about my own current issue which is affected by this 14th century convention.
It’s horrendous that people of 21st century still can’t break the idea from 7 centuries ago.

It’s similar in the U.S, too. You can submit thousands of resumes with all the nice stuff on it but one connection in a company can get you a job even if you lack a little bit of requirements for a position.
In fact, that’s how I got jobs in the past: friend, ex-coworker, classmate, etc.
The difference in the U.S is that, the connection doesn’t guarantee you a job. It’s a fast track to get your resume read or go into an interview. In Korea, if you are a CEO or HR person from a certain school, and you see a resume from your alma mater, you put it in a “interview” folder. When you see an applicant from the same area you grew up with, you call that person in for an interview. The difference is a “reference.” HR person doesn’t know a thing about an applicant but will hire the person because he/she’s from your hometown, because you’ve heard the person is a niece of a coworker who is about to get a huge promotion, because an applicant graduated from your high school or college or sometimes even an elementary school!
I might be exaggerating a little bit. But I’d heard this story from my dad a couple of times every year before I moved to the U.S.
My dad used to emphasize the importance of being accepted to certain schools (Ivy League schools in Korea) to my younger brother over and over. (I had already chosen a path against his will. Haha) Because my dad himself proudly graduated from one of 3 Ivy schools and would hire his research assistant only from one of those schools. He said in the field of knowledge and intelligence is all that matters, it’s unavoidable. As much as I understood, I couldn’t help myself feeling very bitter as a gypsy, have-no-real-job musician at that time.

If you went to a school with Korean people, you must have witnessed that they only hung out with Koreans and would be wary to have a non-Korean person in their circle. (I hated, almost despised this idea which in result left me only few Korean friends from school whom I hardly talk to.) This’s also because of the distorted Confucian idea. In a way, it’s similar to fraternities and sororities or guilds from the medieval Europe. It’s a guaranteed trust and support for people who fit in the group.
If you look at it positively, it can be good. Korea is all about hospitality and brotherhood anyway. But what if you don’t have those ties but still an awesome smarty pants who’s a super hard worker? That’s the downside of the invisible, untold “ties system.”

Why am I venting out on this now? No, I’m not really venting out. I’m just jotting down my thoughts.
Unlike what I said above, I’m not really under the force of “the 3 ties” because I’m not in a Korean job market.
So I should be relieved instead of criticizing Korean ties culture. But having a connection can’t hurt no matter in what country you’re looking for a job, especially if you want a new career, like what I’m doing now.
As I considered changing my career, I’ve been pondering on my strength, ability, talent, and most importantly passion.
I’ve submitted a resume for several companies for all different positions in different career fields because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do but was confident that I could do anything.
About 3 weeks passed, I haven’t got a call.
So, I was pessimistically nagging on a phone to my husband the other day.
“I’m never gonna get hired!!!”
My calm, mature husband lightly laughed and said
“Aw, you’re cute. You should write this on your blog. ‘I’m never gonna get hired!'”

30 is greater than 21

gamescore4
Which score looks better to you if you were a Celtics fan?

I’m a football fan. Some of my friends even call me a football hooligan because I do become Hulk when my team sucks. I’m talking a real football, not American football that wears so much padding.*
But I also watch other sports for fun because it’s very relaxing for me.

My husband was a proud high school classmate of Kevin Garnett. Yes, the great Kevin Garnett of Boston Celtics. And they are facebook friends, too. Like I infected my husband with Arsenal fever, he passed Celtics and Steelers bacteria to me and I watch almost every game of those teams now.

Tonight we watched a big game, LA Lakers vs. Boston Celtics while we kept texting each other about the game.
It was going great. Celtics were beating Lakers by 30 points at most.
Then, when it was about 5 minutes to the end, both teams started switching their players. I could see the point difference was getting smaller since Celtics had taken starters out.
The game ended with 116-95 when it could’ve been 125-95 if Celtics had kept the main players and 30 points difference.
KG (Kevin Garnett) scored so many, he even became the 16th player in NBA history to score 25,000 career points.
This is how awesome Celtics were doing.

After the game, I called my husband and asked with a slight nagging tone, “Why did they change players?!”
Actually, I knew why. They use the same tactic in football: rest main players when you can and use the chance to test new guys out. But basketball players don’t have to run 120m like football players do. Basketball court is much smaller than football stadium. Plus, basketball has timeouts so players get breaks even though the game only lasts for 48 minutes. Football players don’t have any timeouts and run around a giant stadium for 90 minutes. Most of all, that’s what they do! Run and shoot, run and shoot, run, run, run! Isn’t stamina the basic of all sports? Running 5 more minutes is really that much for them?!
Like I always insist, “Get more, try harder, no limit soldiers, don’t settle for the present!”

For sure, my husband is just happy that Celtics won. He thinks they won a great victory. But I’m sorry that they didn’t maximize the point difference when they could. It could’ve been a more dramatic win! :b

*“Why is it that Americans, when they’re playing sport, wear so much padding?” – Michael referring to the Super Bowl in “Welcome to Sarajevo (1997)”

A curious case of Amazon order

My husband and I have been living apart for about 3 weeks now and we won’t see each other until the last week of March. (I’ll discuss more details about this later.)
He’s on the East coast and I’m here in LA.
So we talk a lot on the phone, skype, text, email, etc.
This is great because I’ve been obsessed with my phone since I finally became a smartphone user in last August.
It’s glued to my hands and I do everything on the phone although my computer is on pretty much all day.

First thing I do in the morning is checking emails on my smartphone in the bed – partly to force myself to open my eyes. And of course text, facebook, LA times, twitter, and everything you can do on a smartphone.
But some emails come with a large picture or a lot of information and I re-check those on a computer when I actually get up.

This morning, with one eye still closed, I saw an email subject “Your Order with Amazon.com.”
I had ordered a bicycle lock that is now never coming for 11 days so I thought the email was about that order.
I clicked the email, and it was

Amazon order

Clearly, something was ordered this morning and there was my husband’s name, too.
Strange, I was sleeping. Did somebody steal my credit card info?!
So this would be a kind of email I re-check on a computer and thankfully make me get up immediately.
Then I saw a text from my husband.

“I ordered from Amazon with gift card my mom found. Still have $5 if you need something, let me know. :)”

He didn’t say what he ordered but it was him, not a cyber thief who stole my credit card and Amazon account info. So that kept me in a bed a little longer. 🙂

He likes window shopping but rarely buys anything. And we’ve been trying to save as much as we can so immediately I got so curious what he had bought in the early morning as soon as he had woken up.
Then it hit me.
‘It’s Feb 6! only a week to the Valentine’s day!’
Even though I didn’t really buy him a Christmas gift last year (despite the fact it was our first Christmas together) and we’re not so big on celebrating all the special days, he’s still given me gifts or taken me out on a dinner on special occasions.

‘Aww, he’s so sweet. Aww, Valentine’s day gift for me. I wonder what he ordered.’

I decided not to ask him what he bought because I wanted to wait to surprise myself.

With my dreamy eyes and happy smile, I made myself a cup of morning tea and got a piece of Babka (my new favorite Eastern European cake) before I go through a list of things to do.
First thing on the list: check when the h*** my bicycle lock (the one I mentioned above) is schedule for delivery.
I ordered it on Jan 27. Yes. 11 days is enough time to receive something shipped from Korea. And if you live in Korea, you’d have received your order, returned it, and got a refund in your bank account.
I logged onto my Amazon account without thinking that I’d get to see what he ordered for my Valentine’s day gift.

Amazon2

“?? Why would he order….. ??…. !!!”

It took me a couple of seconds to realize that he didn’t order those razors for me, nor did he for a Valentine’s day gift. I rechecked the order confirmation email and yes, it said he ordered razors.
Because I was just waking up when I saw the email, and it was one of those lots-of-info-so-check-again-on-a-computer emails, I didn’t scroll down to see the order detail which would have shown me the razors.
Also, if I hadn’t been half asleep when I checked the email on the phone, I would’ve been clever enough to doubt it’d be a Valentine’s day gift because the email clearly said it’s being shipping to my husband’s current place.
But the instant thought of “only a week to the Valentine’s day!” just blanked my head.

Oh well, I guess we are still not big on celebrating special days. :S

Hope this lasts.

I’ve had a couple of blogs since the beginning of the blog era on internet. All were mainly to keep my personal thoughts and ideas and never meant to be published openly. And I don’t write on those blogs anymore although I sometimes read them.

My parents used to tell me I lack patience. Whether it’s my interest or dream I wanted to pursue, they didn’t think I kept up with it for long enough to whatever they think I was supposed to do with it.
Well, I have to admit that it is true but it’s not because I lack patience. It’s because I had (and still have) interest in so many other things. I mean SO MANY! Science, arts, sports, literature, just about everything! And while this might sound very arrogant, I learned fast and became good at a lot of those I was interested in a short period of time.
But you were right, mom and dad. There are certain things I dropped too soon and too easily, like my previous blogs. 😦

So, I’m hoping this blog would last and become a good hangout spot to connect with others.  🙂