My Analytical Life

My last couple of posts have been about movies–well, about one movie in particular–and I’ve been actively engaged in an ongoing IMDB debate about said movie. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock (or just not paying attention to me my blog lately), the movie is the new Star Wars Episode VII, which I am thoroughly convinced should win an Oscar because of the subtleties in the characterization. A lot of people look only at the similarities in the plot between this one and the original, Episode IV, hence the ongoing debate.

I’ve encountered a handful of trolls, and then again I’ve also gotten a lot of praise for starting a positive, well-organized, logical debate. It has been mildly refreshing to know that my debating skills are not as broken as they seem to be if we look solely at my interaction with the Boy…

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I find myself having a similar style argument with him that I had with a person on IMDB, and on IMDB I finally decided to end the argument because it was not a well formulated argument. In fact the guy refused to offer any evidence that his view was correct, but rather offered his opinion as evidence and any time I agreed with any part of his opinion, he accepted that as a win, instead of understanding that what I was arguing was about the symbolism and underlying meaning behind the surface elements he was looking at.

Actually, it is exactly the same argument as I have with the Boy! Albeit over a different topic, but the format is the same from my perspective, and it’s why I get frustrated with him. Yet, I can’t express my frustration without it causing another argument, and we tend to go round and round without coming to a solution. I keep thinking we have but I think we just communicate so very differently that we never really do…

With the Boy, I will tell him exactly what points I take umbrage with, and, as he has accurately pointed out, I tend to dwell on the past and show him things that have happened in the past over and over again. It’s not always that the past behavior is being repeated, but rather he is asking me to take it on faith, without any proof, that the behavior won’t be repeated, and I can’t do that.

I’m too analytical to be able to do that.

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A long while back, I wrote a post about how I put data into my brain and the little logicians in there come up with all the possible outcomes and then I choose the most acceptable or likely end goal. It’s a long drawn out process, but it is how I function on a day to day basis. I unintentionally look for signs and patterns and it makes me sometimes appear to be mildly clairvoyant because I’m good at it.

But  it’s really a lot of very taxing mental work and I do it without thinking about it.

With movies, without meaning to do so, I notice subtleties within the cinematography, particularly if it involves archetypes and thus a formula for how the story should go. Sadly enough, the patterns become more obvious the more a movie tries to stray from an archetypal model. The result is that I usually figure out how a movie is going to end within a the first half of the movie.

It is a very rare movie that surprises me.

In an attempt to discuss Star Wars with the Boy, I told him my predictions for where the story was going based on the archetypal hero’s journey that George Lucas used to create the original trilogy and based on the differences in the characters from their traditional archetypal roles. As he told me that one theory (that of a love triangle between Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren) was just my inner fangirl fantasy trying to get out, I explained in detail why I thought this was a valid theory. I included information about why it was smart from a marketing standpoint (a girl protagonist leads to higher female presence in the audience, and the prevailing theory is that women need a love story), archetypal relevance (the hero needs to be tempted and temptation of a romantic kind makes sense), and a few other things.

His response was to ask me if I really thought it would be that mathematical…

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Mathematical. Which is similar to clinical. Which is cold, calculating, and lacks the emotions of a normal person. My analysis of and prediction for the new Star Wars trilogy was not a normal reaction.

The ensuing conversation led to him repeatedly asking me if this analytical way of watching a movie detracted from the enjoyment of the movie going experience. Was it bad to always know the ending? I told him no. Yet he persisted to explain why he felt that it was indeed a negative thing, and how he had stopped doing so a long while back in order to better enjoy the movie and let the characters just tell the story.

The implication being, since I had repeatedly told him this was not a thing I actively tried to do but rather how my brain was hardwired, that not only was my way of watching movies wrong, but by extension my very thought processes are wrong as well.

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Cue the hurt feelings. And a blog post using my interactions on IMDB as a focal point to vent my frustrations about it.

The thing is, I know he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. Once I told him that I thought it was a hurtful thing to say, he immediately explained that his reason for asking was connected to a question he had that was more for people in the film industry: does the knowing reduce the entertainment gained from watching?

Or something to that effect.

He figured my innate ability to see what was coming was a similar situation, and he had gleaned from my responses that either my answer would be that it did not cause an issue, or that I would say I didn’t know since I didn’t really know any other way to experience a movie.

I figure it’s a little bit of both.

It touches on an inherent problem the Boy and I have: he doesn’t see the need to explain himself, while for me, the reason behind a thing is very important.

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It’s similar to figuring out how a machine works, sort of. In my research about people with Asperger’s Syndrome, it shows that many of them like to learn how a thing works. They get fascinated by the function and format of a thing, the gears and power and the internal machinations. Like they might want to really study the difference between a plasma and an LED (LCD?) television. They’ll do all the research and learn about the different wires and components and whatever else.

Wires and gizmos don’t interest me. My favorite thing to take apart is culture. I love language and the way it is used and altered throughout time. I like patterns and archetypes and mythology because it directly leads to an explanation of human behavior and relationships.

It seems that this difference is seen in many female Aspies.

Thus, once the Boy told me why he was asking about how I watched movies, I could stop feeling like he was making a judgment call about me personally.

I can’t help it; I analyze things.

When I don’t know a person well, I have to spend a great deal of time with them to learn their signals, and probably, more than I would like to admit to, I push in certain areas so I can see how they react to particular stimuli so I can learn that signal. Like the first time someone tells me they don’t like something, I might, at a later date, do that thing to a point so that I can see what expression they make so I can file it away as the expression of displeasure or anger or whatever negative emotion they displayed the first time.

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It’s not often, but if I’m really struggling to see someone’s signals, I might, and sometimes, I don’t realize that I’m doing it intentionally until after the fact… Yeah I’m apparently a horrible person.

My need to understand myths and archetypes and tropes and all those nifty things from literature class that most people just roll their eyes at, makes me really good at discovering how a movie will end, and also gives me a bit of insight into peoples’ motivations.

And the motivations are key for me because that determines a lot about what a person’s purpose in my life will be. We’ve already talked about this, I need people to have a purpose. Otherwise, they are kind of just draining my social energy because of the amount of work I have to put into just communicating with them… and often about stuff I don’t care about.

It might be selfish, but I don’t think so.

In fact, I work really hard to not be selfish, often going to the opposite extreme, and have spent a great deal of my life hiding who I was so that people didn’t realize there was something wrong with me. Mostly because I didn’t know what was wrong with me, and my fear has always been that if I told anyone that something didn’t make sense to me, or that I was struggling with something, that they would decide that I was broken and didn’t function properly and so get rid of me.

I’m adopted. I have abandonment issues.

The Boy was the first person I’ve ever been so comfortable with that I didn’t have to hide myself. He accepted my weirdness, at first, and then rejected me.

And I’ve been combating the feelings of brokenness and rejection ever since. I don’t think he understands how the subtle rejections, the ones he doesn’t see as rejections, make me want to curl up inside of myself and hide from him.

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So I do. I end up mimicking his way of talking to me. Mimicry is how I hide. I’ll mimic facial expressions and key phrases, accents and the lilt of a person’s voice.

The Boy doesn’t like it. He says I’m critical of him and hurtful, even insulting from time to time. Yet he doesn’t see how he talks to me in a similar fashion.

And we have a pattern. I can’t not see or not remember the pattern, and I am always watching for it to repeat.

He says that is part of the problem now. I won’t give him the opportunity to prove the pattern won’t repeat, but he and I move at very different paces. Like a student learning a new language by moving to a new country, I need to be immersed in him in order to learn the signals that I apparently didn’t learn before, and to see that we can be okay and comfortable like before. He needs to go at a snail’s pace and maybe we’ll see each other once a month… when it is convenient for him.

I know it’s not because he’s trying to deny me what I need, but only that he is trying to do things the way that he is comfortable with, no matter if I’m comfortable with it or not. He is pretty inflexible about it a lot of times, and I’m tired of bending to everyone else’s wishes. The lack of time does feel like a rejection, even though he doesn’t mean it to be one, and I don’t know if I can stop feeling the rejection. It means I’m still putting forth the most effort, and that bothers me.

And, because of that very thing, I screwed up the two weeks time frame I had promised to give him to prove himself. It was an accident, but it happened because I thought he hadn’t wished me a Merry Christmas. Turned out to be a technical error, but it still really hurt because I wanted him to say it first, and he didn’t.

Even if the technical error hadn’t happened, I still said it first.

So to combat that, to show me that he is trying, I finally told him I had to have the grand gesture. The one I talked about before.

See, I need a schedule, a routine of when we speak, and because he is the closest thing I have to a best friend in Houston, he is usually the first person I think of when I want to talk about or share something, but I’m trying to give him the opportunity to contact me first and show that he is putting forth the effort. He is part of my routine. And yet, that doesn’t work for him. He can’t promise to talk to me a set number of days a week, or guarantee that we’ll see each other X amount of times in a month… He doesn’t like that idea.

Understandably so, scheduling conversations is weird, unless you’re in the military or offshore, or some other situation in which you have limited times to talk… like prison, I imagine.

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A gesture would show me that he’s putting forth the effort that I need from him, because of the broken promises and ungiven gifts that have happened before, because I have continued to show that I find him to be worthy of my time and my friendship, and he has struggled to make me feel that he even wants me there.

Yes, he shows up, but only when I suggest something first… or at least most of the time. I want it to be equal, and in lieu of waiting for him to make good and change the pattern (which is difficult if I’m waiting for him to contact me, and don’t know how long I should wait before I feel slighted), I asked for a grand gesture.

Of course, he initially said no. And, true to our pattern, after a long argument discussion where I explained precisely my reasons, he has tentatively agreed to do it.

He doesn’t like that I keep a tally or that I can’t take on faith that he’s trying to change the pattern. This is my attempt at a compromise, one that allows him to choose how he makes the gesture, but within a set of parameters that will help me to see he is actually making the attempt to change the pattern, without me feeling like I’m still putting forth more effort. The waiting for him to make contact thing isn’t working because if we talk, he feels like he’s fulfilled his part, but if I am the one that initiates the conversation, I don’t count that as any effort on his part.

If he follows through on a gesture that I haven’t specified, it’s effort that I can see.

See, the pattern often leads to him not actually following through, so that’s kind of the test. He usually says it’s because I did something that made him not want to interact with me, thus he still hasn’t given me my Christmas gift from three years ago…

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I can’t get him to understand that gifts aren’t supposed to be conditional. To me they are supposed to be symbolic, and I enjoy metaphorically taking them apart to look at the symbolism and the meaning behind why certain gifts are chosen.

Analytical, clinical, mathematical… Yeah, I know, but it’s who I am and I’m not likely to change any time soon.

And because I do find him to be my intellectual equal, I am very excited to see what kind of gift or activity or gesture he’ll come up with… assuming he follows through. I’ll keep you posted.

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