Perfect & Immaculate

incubi notturni

Today I went into my professor's office because there was one question that I thought was a little ambiguous. It was a short-answer question and the description seemed so vague . . . . I knew all about the phrase he was looking for ("punctuated equilibrium") but the description on the exam ("name of the new theory of evolution") just wasn't getting me there. It is unlike me to argue for points in a class, but I had emailed both professors of this class to ask about two questions. One professor said that question #6 was clearly marked wrong and gave me two additional points. That meant that I only needed one more exam question right to get an A instead of an A-. And that seemed worth a trip to the professor's office and a setting aside of my pride. 

But he said no. He said it nicely, even apologetically, but he felt he just couldn't do it in good conscience. I assured him that I understood and that it was okay, but I was disappointed as I left his office. So close to keeping that 4.0! One question! But it wasn't really his fault; it was mine. I shouldn't have let myself get so close to an A- anyway! And as I walked through the Seminary halls back toward the parking lot I kept replaying the conversation over in my head--what I could have said, what my wonderful and persuasive arguments were. . . . blah blah blah. Then I stopped myself. "It's 10:00 in the morning and I can't go all day dwelling on this. Let it go. It is what it is."

Do I need a 4.0 to be happy? No. (But it doesn't hurt.) 

Later, after my husband came home, I started preparing for a Christmas Eve dinner that we're having at our house tomorrow. I chopped and peeled and mushed and rubbed and sprinkled. Then, having made a few things and prepped a few other things, I turned my attention to dusting and vacuuming and wiping and straightening. Why do I do all of that? I vacuumed 2 days ago. Did I really need to vacuum again? Yes, because my house must be immaculate for guests. We keep a clean house anyway, but "clean" isn't good enough. It must be perfect.

Why? When I go visit someone's house I don't require perfection. I don't really care if they have a messy house with an overflowing garbage can or nail polish bottles all over the living room floor, or a pile of laundry in the bathroom. It really doesn't bother me. And I hear that messy-house people are more hospitable and better hosts than immaculate-house people, which seems true. So why do I feel this compulsion to cook and clean to perfection? I realized today that I don't need a perfect house to entertain guests. That didn't keep me from rearranging our magazines, however.

Oh and by the way, good news: the professor had changed the grading scale ever so slightly right before grades were sent in, so that one corrected answer on my final exam was enough to raise my grade. I get to keep my perfect, immaculate 4.0 and sustain my unrealistic, OCD fantasies.