13 April, 2014

an analogy in lego

having asked my fabulous roommate if a glass of wine is an appropriate accompaniment to giving up on humanity, and gotten an affirmative, i am now sitting here with my glass, typing away my frustration, though perhaps a punching bag or a good cry would be more appropriate.

no, no, no, nothing really bad has happened, it's just that… well, imagine if you will that you have built an intricate structure out of lego. you moved things around and around until it's almost perfect. the red blocks are on the bottom, the white in the middle, and so on. this took a loooong time from the initial model that had the general look of what you wanted, but did not follow the rules assigned. see? there it is! it is a thing of great beauty and it fills you with pride, because you have spent a long time on it. you have buffed it to a high gloss shine. you have honed it to a fine edge. you have spent a long time loving it. a long time. it was an enjoyable time, true, but not as enjoyable as, say, watching some seriously crappy television sans guilt. so yeah, there it is.

so say you now ask your partner to add blue turrets to it, on all the applicable levels, as per project assignment. the partner knows where the turrets go. you trust the partner. perhaps you are an idiot. or perhaps you have so many other things to do you have no choice. and so you work on the yellow wingnuts and let the partner have at the blue turrets.

when you come back to the structure several days later, behold, there are the blue turrets, on all the applicable levels. but…BUT. but as you look closer, you realise that in the process of putting in the blue turrets (on all the applicable levels, natch), your partner has completely (though subtly) rearranged things so that that gorgeous and perfect thing of neat and clean colour coding you have spent such a long time on, is now disrupted. there is a yellow amidst the greens; a blue in the whites: a sort of lego-version of the most unwelcome benetton ad ever made. because in this one instance you really want white to stick to white, and so on… and so you take a deep breath, and then you start, AGAIN, to rework the very things you had already done (well) once. it takes a long time, and as you dig deeper, you realise that the structure has been altered in other ways, ways that make you want to sob, but ways that nobody but you will notice, and so, heartsick, you let it go.

and then you tell c that you are now officially over fucking group work and that you want out NOW. and then you ask mfr about the wine. and then you drink the wine and blog about it and realise that it can't be so very bad if this thought comes roughly 9 days before the end of it all. this thought tries to lift your spirits, but it's hard going. because you loved that fucking lego structure and you made it fucking perfect and you don't understand how someone would fail to see the importance of the details after a semester in a class that brought detail-oriented joy to your heart, the heart that is now, if not broken, then seriously bruised.



Tom said...

And yet one must ask how valuable really was the lego structure. We do tend to invest a great deal of value in anything we create, value based on time and energy, as well as our appreciation of its beauty, simplicity, efficiency, or whatever other criterion we choose. I have no doubt that what you created was possibly all these things, and more. But in the end, the structure is necessarily transient. So was it the structure that was so important, or was it perhaps a misperceived attack on you? If the latter, believe me, you are far from being alone.

polish chick said...

well, i think what hurts is the blatant disregard for my work. i realise, now more than ever, that i am far more detail oriented than most people - hence my position at school as "the finisher" - i always synthesise the final findings, i edit, i make sure the final product is good.

this was a huge project, tom, and we all put in a lot of work into it, even the blue turret partner, who is actually very reliable and solid. it just felt like a smack in the face when the work i put into finishing the "structure," work the group agreed i do because it was necessary, was in the end seen as irrelevant to this person. i know this person didn't look at it like that consciously, and i know this wasn't an act of sabotage, but it was a dismissal of my work, and nobody likes that.

by the way, the analogy breaks down at the transience - the thing in question is a series of very very detailed maps and a document. not quite the same transience as a lego structure.

Zhoen said...

Deep breath, deeeeeeeep breath.

Geneviève Goggin said...

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your attention to detail and perfection will be greatly valued wherever you work. The bad news is that your perfect Lego structures will be altered by "the powers that be" way more often than is strictly fair and perfection will often not be a luxury you have to begin with. I'm going through an identity mini-crisis at work I'm facing exactly that and it is driving me nuts. I have sticky note on my computer that says: "You are a cog. I guess cogs are important too." Ugh. I'm with you sister. When we rule the world, things will be so much more orderly and right.