Dark Mirror

“The only person you’re competing with is yourself.” —ItsJustKelli

Right now I’m watching ItsJustKelli working out for three hours in a gym somewhere in the Midwest. Last night, I stayed up till 4 a.m. — the second of two nights in a row, btw — binging on the third season of “Black Mirror” on Netflix.

Just another lost weekend, right? Well, momentous, really.

While the rest of the world regularly consumes Netflix and YouTube stars like it’s nothing, I’m new to the digital age, kind of a dinosaur really. I’m so old-fashioned, I still need recipes on paper to bake. (But then again, I count on my fingers.)

I’ve also been crocheting like mad, mostly to try out new stitches. At the time, I mean to finish no matter what, but I’ve had to frog (undo) my work several times in a frustrating system of trial and error for the cable and blossom stitches I’m learning.

I stumbled onto the Korean Midwestern wife’s YouTube channel while searching for size guidelines on crocheting infinity scarves, after this one stitch and this one chunky yarn didn’t turn out the way the lady on another YouTube channel said it would.

ItsJustKelli claimed to be clueless about instructing us on how to crochet scarves, yet she made me laugh and she did answer my question (a cowl is about three feet, a longer scarf you wrap twice or more is way longer, like about 5-6 ft.).

I’ve obsessively been watching/listening to her constant TMI all day — when I’m not obsessively consuming as many “Black Mirror” episodes as humanly possible, and crocheting scarves I have to unravel midway.

Mind. Blown.

  1. This is a full-time job for YouTubers like ItsJustKelli. A job. She’s helping a lot of people sharing her life on YouTube, so not everybody’s on there to be the next Justin Bieber.
  2. People lose entire weekends watching other people eat pizza, sit around doing homework, drop kids off to school, buy groceries, talk about doggy vomit, get their hair done, and work out at the gym. For three hours. Unreal.
  3. I’m not the only Korean adoptee to feel disconnected from my race.
  4. Thousands and thousands of complete strangers tune into ItsJustKelli‘s channel to learn more about her, the more mundane, the better. Where can I sign up?
  5. Don’t watch “Fifteen Million Merits” alone at 3 a.m. Not even with a warm crocheted scarf in your lap.
  6. Now I know where all the other depressed, anxiety-ridden, introspective night owls are.
  7. ItsJustKelli’s whiter than my white husband, which is endearing, not an insult.
  8. She could be my sister, for all I know. We were both “adopted.”
  9. The “San Junipero” episode started off slowly, dragging in some parts, but it’s one of those stand-alone movies within a series that will stay with me forever.
  10. “Hated in the Nation,” however, didn’t seem to fit in with the modern “Twilight Zone” series. It played more like a thriller/procedural, but then I was in the middle of a crocheting crisis at the time. (Wait, this scarf is too rigid to go two more rows!)
  11. “White Bear” is horrifying. Perhaps more for the woman’s constant screaming than the twist at the end.
  12. Girl, take a breath! Rhythm is everything.

I suffered from an immediate, intense feeling of inadequacy when I “met” ItsJustKelli online.

She’s younger, hella more beautiful — even without all that makeup she tests — and much more personable. She does yoga, runs marathons, works out for three hours in the gym every morning, wakes up at 5 a.m. every day, she played soccer competitively, she can cook, she can bake, she’s fucking vivacious… She’s the kind of Asian non-Asians gravitate to and white guys find hot.

She makes being Asian okay, normal even.

She also reminds me of everything I lack.

When I look at her, I’m reminded of every physical flaw, every personality quirk, my tendency to repeat myself, fixate on things, my ugly twisted deformed lips.

At the end of the day, or weekend if you will, I sat back, looked at my fat, sagging clown face, and wondered WTF I had going for me.

The woman can probably write better too.

On the other hand, I’m also enormously relieved to find someone else out there who kinda sorta came from the same place at me and is out in the world kicking ass. Not only that, she’s the first Korean-American YouTube superstar changing stereotypes and minds — even if she can’t pronounce “mochi” right.

Not all of us are what you think we are. We’re different, just like you guys.

ItsJustKelli is validation that Asians can be and do anything.

Maybe one day, I’ll see someone who looks like me thank Jesus Christ for her third Academy Award, living the kind of life I once dreamed of when I was a little immigrant girl growing up in Kentucky, trying to hide who I was.

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