Underneath my yellow skin

The quiet place of me

I have talked at length about how I’m different than most people. I’m talking in big ways–Asian, bi, not married, no children, agnostic, food issues, etc.–and small–liking winter, preferring night to day, etc. When it comes to pop culture, it’s pretty much a guarantee that if something is popular, I will hate it. Movies I hate: Star Wars, Titanic, Amelie, Se7en, and Pulp Fiction. Music groups: The Who, Led Zepplin, and The Beatles. Books turned into movies I tried to read and couldn’t: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I read the first chapter of the first one three times before finally giving up because it was such bad prose. As for the latter, I instantly haaaaaaaaated the narrator and couldn’t get past it. Oh, one more. The first Game of Thrones book by George R. R. Martin. The prose was so purple and turgid, I had a hard time not laughing out loud. A few more: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, and The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin.

Let’s move onto TV. It’s the area in which I am the weirdest. It’s also something I don’t talk about hardly at all because I’m so squarely on the side of weird. Popular TV shows I absolutely hate: Seinfeld; It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; Game of Thrones*; Breaking Bad; House of Cards; Arrested Development. I will add that I’ve only seen one episode of GoT and BB so there’s that. The GoT one was the Red Wedding and the BB one was the penultimate episode. I absolutely LOATHE Seinfeld. All the characters are narcissistic, smug, entitled, whiny, and overwhelmingly white.

Speaking of, the most recent movie I watched was Knives Out. I was really looking forward to it because it had gotten such great acclaim and I loved Agatha Christie, especially Poirot; it was clear the movie was an homage of sorts to Christie. The cast was stellar, ranging from Jamie Lee Curtis to Toni Colette to Don Johnson. Oh, and Daniel Craig as the detective. I wasn’t impressed by the frenetic cut-editing of the trailer, but I figured it was just a way to get people to see the movie.

I hated it. I wrote two posts about how much I hated it and why. The point of this post is not how much I hated that movie. It’s that I’m a freak. Yes, we all knew that, but it’s in the little ways along with the big. I am a contrarian, I will admit. If something is popular, chances I’m not going to like it. Is it that I don’t like it because it’s popular or are the two things parallel constructs? I think it’s the latter, honestly. Partly, it’s because I know my tastes very well (at least in movies, TV, and books) and I can tell from the beginning/trailer of a movie if I’ll like it or not. Now, some would say it’s because I bias myself in a certain way, which could be true. But with Knives Out, I went into it really wanting to like the movie. I was psyching myself up to watch it and I went in with an open mind. I hated it within five minutes and only hung in because of the stellar cast.

I’ve gotten used to shutting the fuck up when people start talking about movies or TV shows. Nothing good can come out of me entering those conversations. I don’t like superhero movies and haven’t seen any since Guardians of the Galaxy. TV-wise, I only like competition shows in which people aren’t mean to each other. My BFF and I talked about all the ones we’d recently watched when we last talked, which was a breath of fresh air to me. I’m not embarrassed by my love for the shows I watch, but they’re not much to talk about, either.

I think it’s difficult because the communities I  tend to engage with are one-dimensional. I don’t mean in that in a dismissive way, but that’s a fact of most groups. They’re gathering for a specific purpose, which I cannot begrudge them. But I’m not like that. I don’t want to talk about one thing all the time. That’s why I tend to drift after a few years in one group. I’ve changed, but the group hasn’t. This includes websites and people, actually.

There’s something else I talked about with my BFF that I won’t talk about with almost anyone else, either. It’s really difficult for me to converse because I don’t think of things on the same level as everyone else does. Or rather, I can see things from a million different angles as can my BFF. That’s how the conversation started, actually. She was saying something about being the mediator at her work because she can see both sides. I’m the same way and sometimes I wonder if I do that because of my contrarian roots. It’s that but also my unease with groupthink. I want to make sure that people aren’t getting blinkered in their way of thinking.

It’s hard, though. I’m much more at ease with myself now than three decades ago, but I still spend an inordinate amount of time censoring what I say. It’s not a completely bad thing, of course, and more people could do with keeping some of their thoughts to themselves. However, it’s difficult because in general public, I don’t think I ever say the initial thought on my mind without heavily examining it first. I know that I have to make what I have to say more palatable to the general public, which is tiring.

I keep thinking back to my last therapist when she said something that made me really stop and think. I was having a dispute with an eBay seller (that dates me) over a VHS she sent me (dating me even further). It was a performance of Alan Rickman (of course!) in some Shakespeare production, I want to say Romeo and Juliet. The description stated that it was original, not a copy and it was not in violation of laws or something like that. I was in a phase of collecting everything Alan Rickman had ever done and I was eager to get this piece of paraphernalia. It was difficult to buy some things because they were Region 2 and not Region 1 back when that actually mattered.

I got the tape and it wasn’t original–it was someone who had videotaped the performance live. Clearly in violation of the law and I messaged the seller saying so. They wrote me back and said it was an original so not against the law. I was flummoxed by this because it was so clearly breaking the law, I couldn’t understand how the sellers didn’t see it. We messaged back and forth a few time with me explaining the law and how they had violated it. I was polite and I was pleasant, but I wanted my money back. After several back-and-forths, THEY reported me to eBay. I was gobsmacked because they were so clearly in the wrong. I explained it to eBay who quickly refunded my money.

I brought it up in my next therapy session because it still bothered me that the seller contacted eBay about me when they were 100% in the wrong. My therapist listened to me and then said that the seller literally couldn’t understand what I was saying. They weren’t deliberately trying to be dicks–they just didn’t get what I was saying. I was floored. How could that be when it was so simple to see? I felt like I had failed in finding the right words. That’s when my therapist said that there were no ‘right words’ because I was literally talking over their heads.

It was one of the best things she had ever said to me. She followed it by pointing out that the lesser-talked-about conclusions of the Dunning-Kruger study is that smart people tend to underestimate how much smarter they are than other people. Or if they’re really talented in something, they think anyone can do the same thing with a little grit and elbow grease. I passed along this wisdom to my brother, which opened his eyes as well. He told me it really helped him understand his own situation, which was how I felt when I first learned about it.






*Congrats, GoT! You made two lists!

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