Saturday, March 29, 2008

Blind Faith

So we've been talking about it...and, even though neither of us has actually come out & said or suggested anything concrete, my hunch right now is that she'll probably be leaving sometime in May. She has a contract at work that runs through April, and I know she's already thinking about that as a kind of cut-off date. I mean, anything could happen at this point, but that's my prediction...not that I believe in predictions.

And yes, I know that her beliefs should not be any less valid than mine...but it's not her ideaology itself as much as the way she lets it affect her life in ways that she doesn't realize are harmful. Last night, for instance, she called me after she got off work at 7:45 and said that it was a nice night & did I want to go for a quick drive through the park? She had a bad day at work & the park makes her feel better. I was in the middle of something & didn't want to break away, so she said that she was going to drive through there on the way home...even though it's about 15 miles out of the way and it was about 15 minutes before sundown (she likes to go to the park & 'connect with nature', as she calls it). I didn't think much of it, so I told her I'd see her when she got home in a little while.

So, I lose track of time & all of a sudden, it's 9:05. I haven't heard from her, so I give her a call to make sure she's ok. She doesn't answer. Finally, at about 9:30 she calls me back & says she lost track of time & was just sitting in her car meditating...which she does out there; this park is very remote & secluded. So she comes home a few minutes later & I...very politely...try to impress on her that it might not be the safest thing for a young woman to be alone in the park after I said, it is very remote & secluded, not to mention dark. She absolutely refused to recognize this point, telling me that I should have faith in her sixth sense to make sure she's always aware & safe. She says that she has a very deep spiritual connection to that park and that she knows nothing bad could ever happen to her there...after all, nothing bad has ever happened to her in her life, so she can go out alone in the dark all she wants and I just need to have faith & not worry so much...because, in short, she has a guardian fairy godmother angel. Oh, and apparently I was being very closed-minded & refused to believe in her.

So, Jaded, in response to your comment, it's not just that she plays with crystals & listens to's that she makes fundamental decisions about her day-to-day life & welfare based on a bunch of baloney. I felt like I was taking crazy pills....

And it's a damn shame, but I guess I knew it from day one....and then just tried to convince myself otherwise. I'm sure she feels the same to some extent. She needs somebody to believe in her fairy godmother...and I just can't do it. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Fool Me

So anyway...

I'm not saying that I'm the kind of person who demands that my partner automatically believe exactly the same as I do...I can be open-minded. Hell, I've dated enough Catholic girls to learn to at least pick my battles. And, at first, that's the way I tried to look at it...that none of this new age stuff is any crazier than what the christians believe (I can't believe Blogger tries to tell me 'christian' is misspelled by not capitalizing it; fuck Blogger). And that, being a late bloomer, she'll probably grow out of it to an extent.

So, I figured I'd give it a shot. She moved 500 miles to come live with me & we piled all her stuff into my tiny apartment and settled in...and it was good. Then, little by little, this stuff began to creep into our daily lives. She'd have a bad dream & wake up and spend an hour looking up interpretations & meanings of it on the web, convinced that it was telling her something. I'd notice her checking her horoscope in the mornings (not a huge deal) and then started to see her doing online tarot readings...again, not a huge deal I guess, if she didn't also make day-to-day choices based upon whatever it said, that is.

Then came the talk about the past lives. At first, I tried again to just tell myself that millions of hindus & others believe in reincarnation, so it's not that unusual. But then came the kicker; one day a few months ago, she asked me if I believed in aliens. I told her that I don't beleieve in Roswell & little green men, but that life out there of some kind is certainly possible. She then proceeded to tell me how she doesn't believe in little green man either...she thinks that all the aliens are beautiful angels who are in secret communication with some enlightned people, you really even need me to continue?

So, at this point, I was officially concerned. I took the problem to Elaine, whom she had become friends with by that time, and told her what was going on. I let her read a couple of the crazy-ass websites that Annette had showed me, and she agreed that somebody should, well, say something. So, we did. We sat her down & asked her just what it was that makes her think any of this is true. She responded by saying, reluctantly, that she knows a lot of it is probably not true...but that reading it & believing it makes her feel good. That she doesn't like all the ugliness & pain in the world, at that this is someplace that she can kind of retreat to....a warm, fuzzy fantasy world where benevolent aliens & fairies sprinkle pixie dust on the evils of the world.

So, she basically confirmed what I had already thought...that she wasn't necessarily crazy, but that it just made her feel better to think that way. We then tried to explain to her how, while her feelings were understandable, that it really wasn't healthy to live in that kind of fantasy world, especially when she was already so....unexposed, shall we say, to so many aspects of the real world...such as anything having to do with history, or current events, or culture, or...anything, really.

She said that she understood that...and that she knows that she needs to read more, and become more informed & involved with things, and that she was just having a hard time being in a new place & needed some comfort & yadda yadda,. So, I felt semi-better about it & life went on. And for a long while, I didn't hear a single crazy word come out of her mouth...I started to think that maybe some reality had finally sunk it.


In fact, all that was going on was that she was just repressing it this new environment, she didn't have any of her crazy friends around to talk to about any of this, so all her new-agey-ness was just being bottled up, looking for a release. And it all came to a head over christmas...

We were going out west to visit her parents in the little town that she grew up in. I had met her parents many times before, and we got along well. They seemed to me like normal, reasonable people, and in fact, I was looking forward to spending some time with them because I actually wanted to bring some of these concerns up to them. Nothing had really come up about it lately, but there had been several embarrassing moments in public where she was trying to make conversation with people & ended up saying something that was completely out there & off-the-wall enough to make people step back a little...stuff like telling the mother of a new baby that she needed to go and look up the baby's star signs & plan out some kind of astrological growing-up chart for him. Stuff that, to her, was just normal, but that I couldn't get her to see how & why some other people might not think that.

So anyway, we go out west for the holidays...and during the 2 weeks that we were there, it all became perfectly clear....

The first thing I notice upon entering her parents house is a pamphlet sitting on the dining-room table. It was the monthly newsletter of an organization called the A.R.E.; or the Association for Research & Enlightenment. Alarm bells immediately went off in my head, because this was something that I was quite familiar with.

The A.R.E. is an organization based around the works of Edgar Cayce; a nearly-forgotten, early 20th-century 'psychic' con-man, who claimed to be able to tap into the spirit world & find information to cure almost any ailment. Cayce would, allegedly, fall into a deep trance & dictate litanies of folk-remedies to desperate souls who wrote him with descriptions of their illnesses. He also claimed that the U.S. would discover a 'death ray' weapon from the lost Continent of Atlantis in 1958, and that, of course, the universe was teeming with aliens, who were all watching our every move & guiding the human race toward enlightenment.

Apparently, her parents (in their 70's now) have been enthusiasts (if not exactly followers) of Cayce for the better part of a century. They have spent thousands of dollars on A.R.E. themed retreats & seminars, practice questionable homeopathic medicine, and, for all their seeming normalcy (and undeniable intelligence), are really just as batshit-crazy as I feared she was. And there we have our answer.

She was born into it...she's been around it all her life. It's all she's ever known. It's no different than someone who grew up in a christian or muslim home; they're not going to suddenly be converted if you just show them some literature or disprove one of their many theories. Her parents aren't gonna change, which pretty much means that she's not gonna change, either.

And when you think about it & look at the facts, it sort of makes sense. In the 40's & 50's, when her parents were young and Cayce was in the pop-culture eye, the world at large was much less skeptical, and the standards of media, as bad as they are today, were such that frauds & hoaxes often went undetected. We also did not have the science then to disprove many of the things we do today, so, in the cold light of hindsight, I can easily see how two young, idealistic people could get wrapped up in something like that. I don't really understand how they could ignore all the inconsistencies & disregard basically everything that science has learned about the world since then & continue to believe it for 50+ years, but I guess once you get comfortable with something, it's hard to shake it off. And it's probably hard not to pass some of it on to your children, too...

And yes, I know it's not my place to change anyone, or to try and tear down anyone's beliefs...although if I had somehow made it into adulthood still believing in Santa or the easter bunny, I'd desperately want someone to tell me. But that's the difference in us...she doesn't want to hear it. When I try and explain to her why the pyramids in Egypt are just big tombs & not secret energy portals that the aliens put here, it's like I can see the 2 sides of her brain warring; she hears me...somewhere inside she knows I'm right & she admits as much, but she just can't imagine having to face a reality without all this stuff in it, so she refuses to. There's literally nothing I can do.

And I can't talk to her anymore, not about anything can I take anything she says seriously? How can I trust one single decision that she makes? What the hell do I do? I know we can't work out together, and I'm pretty sure she feels the same way (after all, who would want to be with someone who is constantly belittling that which you hold dear), but part of me is worried that, if I let her go, I'll come across her chanting & selling flowers at the bus station a year from now.

And yes, I may be exaggerating a bit, and yes, I know that's not really my my grandpa once said "you can't save everybody, son...just try not to be standin' next to 'em when they go off!" But it's pretty clear to me that, at least in some way, she needs saving; she has to learn how to function in the real world or she's gonna be screwed; 'cus her parents aren't gonna be around too much longer, and she's got nobody else to stop her from dinking the kool-aid.

And how in the hell did I, of all people, wind up here?*

*=yeah, I's rhetorical

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Shaming of the True

Yeah, ain't goin' so hot.

And I'm not sure if there's even anybody out there listening who cares anymore, but, as always, I'm writing this for myself as much as anything. It's been creeping into my mind for a long while now, and it's time I faced it...somehow.

At first, it was great. Well....let me qualify that; as first it was new, and in the wild world of romance, anything new is often great, at first. But, we've been together for almost a year & a half now; it's no longer new, and the greatness is gone, too. Don't get me wrong, we don't fight all the time, we still have sex, we do love each other..of that I'm sure....we're just very different, as I've said before. "Well, different how?", you might ask...

In short, she's fucking nuts.

Now let me qualify that. She's not exactly Veronica-crazy; she was crazy in a scary, boil-your-bunny kind of way. No, Annette (still no color, as she's asleep about 10 feet away from me as I write this) is crazy mainly because she was born into it, like some people are born into money or slavery. Let me attempt to explain....

i·ro·ny1 : [ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation –noun, plural -nies.
D: an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

Many of you have seen me use this word before; sometimes correctly, sometimes not. Often things are thought of as being ironic when they're really more darkly humorous than anything. Let me just assure you then, dear reader, that there could possibly be nothing more ironic than me: the most skeptical, non-religious, rational thinker I know, ending up with someone who's beliefs make Shirley MacClaine's seem mainstream.

I knew that, from the beginning, she had some personality quirks that were, let's say, wacky. She mentioned consulting her horoscope a few times early on, and said something about karma & past lives on occasion, but this, for whatever reason, didn't raise a huge red flag with me. Ok, let me take that back...even the slight mention of those kinds of things always raise a red flag with me, but in this case, I chose to ignore it. Why? I'll get to that.

You see, for those of you who don't know me (i.e. everyone), I've had something of a long & sordid history with religion. After being born southern Baptist, then raised & educated Catholic, I had the normal crisis of faith in my late teens that I assume most people go through. I spent years & years voraciously reading anything I could on the subject of faith, from both sides of the coin, and after several years of soul-searching, finally came to two happy conclusions. One, that I am agnostic, and two, that I am simply not one of those people who is driven to seek answers to the all-encompassing why-are-we-here type questions...I simply don't care. Or, to be more precise, I don't not care as much as I just think that it seems to have little bearing on how we go through this life...if there's something out there that we can only experience after we die, I'll find out about it then. If there is something out there beyond this world we see every day, then it's pretty obviously something that we're not supposed to concern ourselves too much with, lest we miss out on all the wonderful things we have to do in this world.

My feelings on this matter were also greatly affected by something that happened when I was 21 years old, when one of my best friends, whom you've heard me mention, fell into a religious cult. It wasn't the Moonies or Krishnas, and he didn't shave his head & sell pencils at the was a much more insidious, christian-based cult. He was, and still is, one of the brightest, most reasonable, well-educated people I have ever met, and it fascinated me to no end as to how this could happen to him...and yet it did. After a couple of years, he managed to come to his senses & see it for what it really was, but not before it had almost ruined his life in many ways. Over the next few years, the two of us became self-styled experts on fringe religions, mind-control cults, and the psychology of those who join them. For three years, we labored on a documentary exposing the true face behind this organization he had belonged to, only to see the cult itself crumble from within after one of it's leaders was implicated in a scandal.

During our research for the documentary, I had the chance to interview dozens of people who had gone through similar experiences. Some of their stories were truly heartbreaking, and I was shocked at how reasonable & intelligent many of them seemed, further reinforcing my theory that it doesn't matter how smart you are...some people just need to believe in something. I met wives who had lost husbands to cults, mothers that had lost their children, fathers who had been spit & cursed at by their sons. Most of these people eventually found their way out of whatever group they were in, but rarely before significant damage had been done, both to their lives & those of their families. At one point, I actually considered the possibility that this was my true calling; that I was supposed to use my talent for filmmaking not to be the next John Carpenter, but to help these get their stories out, so nobody else would have to go through what they went through.

Then, as so many things do, the project fell through. After the scandal involving this group, there was no longer any cult for us to combat, and soon, my interests turned to other things, and my days as an amateur expositor/exit counselor were over. I never lost interest in the subject completely & I try to stay well-read on the just ceased to be an actual part of my life...until.

Until Annette.

So, anyway, we had met & fallen madly in infatuation with each other before I started to hear her talk about any of these things. One night, I remember she mentioned something about past-lives & I decided to ask her about it; she claimed that her parents had always believed in such things, and had just raised her that way. She tried to make it sound like she didn't really believe any of it; that it was just lip-service, no different than millions of people who profess to be christians but have never cracked open a bible or set foot inside a church in years. Besides, this was me we're talking about here, remember? Even if she did have some wacky beliefs, I was sure that it was simply because she didn't know any better. I don't mean that to sound condescending; the fact is that the vast majority of people in the world have very little critical thinking ability....that is, people tend to believe whatever they're taught or read with little questioning. Hell, I was a christian until I sat down & thought about it for a were many people I knew. I figured that whatever wackiness she had been exposed to, I was the perfect antidote to come in & show her the light. Hell, I'll just explain it to her...that most psychics & astrologers are just con-men preying on the gullible; that much of this NewAge spirituality is just warmed-over eastern philosophy with a pop-culture spin & some warm & fuzzy maxims tossed in for good measure. It all makes sense once you just see it for what it is...wishful thinking, and I felt confident that any reasonable person would see as much, if given the chance to actually examine it. I'll have her cured inside of six problemo! Right?

Yeah, well...

So that's how it began; with me trying to look past the kookiness & thinking that all she needed was to be exposed to some good old-fashioned common sense. I had all the books picked out for her to read on the subject (and encouraged her to go do research on her own, as well). I introduced her to my friend, who told her his horrifying story of life in a cult. I made sure we watched a lot of Discovery Channel because she seemed to be woefully uneducated on matters of science & history (among many other matters, that I would soon discover). In fact, after our first few conversations on the subject, I didn't hear a single esoteric peep out of her for a good couple of months, so I had basically thought that things were just working themselves out.

You see, I already had learned & accepted that she was a bit of a late bloomer, as it were. She had led an extremely sheltered life, had grown up with a protective stage mom, and was generally never encouraged to actually learn anything, other than how to sing & dance & look pretty (all of which she does amazingly well). She wasn't stupid at all, on some things she had remarkable insight, she was simply ignorant on many subjects. Her parents had failed her in that respect (which she would admit). The education system had failed her also, as I would later learn, because her mom was the school's music teacher at a small-town school, and all the other teachers took her mom's lead in not worrying about whether she knew anything except whatever would help her on stage. She graduated high school & went to cosmotology school...not exactly a paradigm of higher learning, but it's more formal education than I had, so that's no excuse. Anyway...all these were things that I naievely assumed would be cured by the simple fact of my presence. All she needed was a good example, right?

And you must also be asking yourself about now, if you know anything about me, why I was ever attracted to a girl who was not on the same intellectual level as me, as it were? For this, I have 3 decide the order of their importance.

1. She is a genuinely kind, loyal, and loving person, without a mean bone in her body.

2. She is very talented & we both shared a common interest in the same industry

3. Upon meeting her for the first time, my mom took me aside & whispered to me "Oh my lord, X, she looks just like Kara!"

...and I hear her waking up. More to come tomorrow....stay tuned