Keep calm and carry on

lucy-blockhead
When I was an undergraduate student, I worked on campus.
One day I was having a conversation with my classmate who came by at my work. I don’t remember what we talked about but i remember I got really intense to win the conversation which later almost became a serious discussion-esque argument. Also I remember what my co-worker said: “I think your English is more than good enough to beat anyone in arguments.” As it’d been less than a year I came to the US, my English was just good enough for academic performance. My co-worker just joked about how enthusiastically I got into arguments with people, and never got easy with it despite the language barrier.

My neighbors, “the new normal” couple, argue like its their weekly routine. I started to think that they have to initiate a new religion. “Argue, argue, and you will find peace and love.” Because my apartment building has a very thin wall and they always have windows open, I can hear almost every word. Mostly it’s about nothing. But the guy (or “lady” to be respectful) can get very emotional and doesn’t afraid to show his(her) anger. I think (s)he gets as tense as i do in an argument.
I started to notice a sort of “set piece” as well. For example, in every argument, (s)he yells “I’m not crazy!! Leave me alone” several times. There’s always a slamming closet door sound, then slamming front door, and angry foot step. I can make music out of rhythm of this angry footsteps. Or should I create a mobile game Angry Footstep?!

Now that I think back, I really did get crazy when I argued with my exes. I admit it.
But dictionary defines “argue” as “exchange or express diverging or opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way.”
That’s right. It says “exchange.” You can’t exchange your view with yourself.

I hardly argue with my husband.
I think I can actually count times we argued for the past 4 years.
He really is like Confucius: smart, patient, well-mannered, and inspiring.
When I get into “the mood” he doesn’t respond. It’s not that he pretends or it’s his tactic. He just doesn’t get angry like normal people do because he has unique perspectives on subject.
He looks it from completely different way that people usually don’t think of, and doesn’t think it’s bad or a problem. It doesn’t bother him. So it’s usually just me who gets mad.
I figured his different perspective and infinite patience comes from his infinite knowledge.
I’m not praising him just because he is my husband. That’s usually what people say about him. He’s different and patient.
When I delivered my engagement news to my friends in Korea who never met my husband, they all said it’s gotta be somebody super patient and smart to marry me.
There are 2 reasons why we don’t argue.
1. It’s like I’m doing Lucy Van Pelt lines to a wall – either there’s no response or when there is one, it’s usually very calm and consisted of few words.
2. He makes perfect sense – if he responses with more than few words, he organize my argument and situation and he explain things which all make perfect sense. Although I get angry I remain pretty logical. But everything he says makes perfect sense.

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to my neighbors’ “sacred weekly mass.” I don’t want to cross the line, but for the sake of tranquility of other neighbors and themselves, I really want to put a post-it on their door. “Do not response. That will lead you two to peace.” If they’re smart, they’ll get it. Or should I be more direct and say “It takes two hands to clap”?

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.”