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


Blogger Rach recalled...

I was surprised to see you on my RSS feeds list this morning. I am glad that you are back to the blog, as you are a fantastic writer, but I am sorry that things in your life are in such a way that you feel need to blog. Take care and I look forward to hearing more of your story.

Monday, March 24, 2008 7:27:00 AM  
Blogger Jamy recalled...

Miss you!

Monday, March 24, 2008 7:40:00 AM  
Blogger D recalled...

Ah yes, us RSS subscribers will always be here.

Nice to have you back, toying with our emotions again. Looking forward to more.

Monday, March 24, 2008 9:12:00 AM  
Blogger Jaded recalled...

If you meet someone who has "quirks" that need to change in order for you to think she's perfect, run the other way. Fast. You need to love someone BECAUSE of the quirks, not in spite of them, and not with the intention of educating them away. I'm sure the fact that she's a really wonderful, talented woman with whom you have much in common are the things that have kept you together so long. Hell, some marriages are based on less.


I'm thinking your mom may be on to something.

Monday, March 24, 2008 1:36:00 PM  
Blogger Gareth recalled...

first off, great to hear from you, you're brilliant and I miss you!

your writing is totally awesome, really moving and interesting.

I won't give advice because no matter how long your posts are there's never enough detail to make good decisions.

i'll say for certain it's difficult to have a constructive relationship with an intellectual imbalance (even if it's just ignorance). After all there needs to be mutual respect in order for both partners to be just that instead of one being inferior or feeling like they are.

keep us posted man

Monday, March 24, 2008 9:40:00 PM  

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