Friday, September 16, 2005

Confession Is Good For The Non-Existant Soul.

My grandmother recently invited herself to stay in my home some time in the near future. I don't particularly mind, since I haven't seen her or my grandfather in quite some time. It will be nice to catch up and show her around my house, since she has never been here before.

So my wife asked me what we needed to hide and put away before she comes, and I decided not to hide anything at all. I didn't ask her to come here, she invited herself, even if she did leave it up to me just when she comes to visit. So I figure that if she sees something she doesn't like, well, I didn't push it on her. It's my home, after all.

But this got me to thinking about the things about me, my wife and my life in general that my grandmother probably doesn't want to know about me. Here's my list, so far.

1. Let's start with the big one. I'm not a Christian. I don't believe in any deity, much less Yahweh. I am, to use the fancy jargon, an agnostic nontheist. I'm pretty sure there's no divine father figure in the sky watching over my shoulder. But if you can give me some evidence, I'll look at it. Considering how rabidly Christian my grandmother has been her whole life (once accusing me of living a sinful life because I had a mullett), I doubt she would appreciate my rationalistic, materialistic world-view. Much else, although not everything, on this list flows from this.

2. I had sex before I was married. I even enjoyed the last two years of my pre-marital sex life. Incidentally, this coincides with the time I met my wife. I am unabashed about this. I defy all the bullshit studies that say pre-marital sex can ruin a marriage. I defy all the bullshit studies that say that living together before marriage leads to shorter marriages. The friends of mine that were having sex before marriage and did live together pre-marriage are all still married, happily so, and have strong relationships with their spouses. From my own anecdotal evidence, it's the psychos who wait, or require a promise of marriage before putting out that are screwed up in the head. Sex predates religion by millenia, people. Get over the hangups and enjoy yourselves.

3. My favorite artist is
Luis Royo, who does some seriously twisted art, most of it erotic, much of it nudes. My wife likes him, too, although probably not as much as I do. Her twisty-ness goes less towards the sci-fi and more towards the fantasy, so she tends to like the scary-fairy stuff. Which is why we have gothy fairies up in the hallway upstairs. I doubt my grandmother will appreciate those very much.

4. Speaking of gothiness, I am, essentially, bipolar (
cyclothymic, to be exact). Thus, I regularly go through bouts of the doldrums, to put it mildly. This lends itself to gothiness in general, although I don't live the lifestyle. I just like some of the styles. I appreciate the existentialism implicit in goth, even if I don't go so far as to be nihilistic. Life can suck, but it can have great joy, as well. Embrace both, I always say. This is something that my grandmother will probably never understand. The basic philosophy statement she could grasp, but I doubt she'd ever understand that, to get through my life, sometimes I have to enjoy being depressed. Laugh, cry or die. She is one of those people that can never, ever have a family member not jumping for joy in her presence, except when she is crying herself. Then it's okay.

5. Which brings me to my next point. I don't like spending holidays with my grandmother and the rest of the family. My immediate family is okay, but beyond that, everyone manages to either turn Christmas into a celebration of death or run away from said celebration. It's embarassing to watch a grown woman cry over the decade-old death of her mother. I understand that you miss her. We all do. But we move on. What's worse, though, is the others. They are either embarassed by it all, like my father, who sits in the TV room out back of the house and smokes while everyone else is "celebrating". Or else they get caught up in the heat of the moment and start crying, wailing and gnashing teeth right along with my grandmother. I have never seen a group of Christians cry at Christmas like my father's family. I grew up with a really twisted idea about Christmas because of this. While the average American household was celebrating Christ's birth, my grandmother (and her familial cronies) were crying because he died on the Cross for our sins. Hey, goobers! That's EASTER! We have a whole different holiday for that. But you know what, I've always suspected that there's a bit of showmanship involved here, because I don't ever remember her actually breaking down on Easter, and crying over Jesus' crucifixion. Of course, there wasn't anywhere near as big an audience at Easter when I was kid, either.

What's worse is the big fakers who stand there and look all solemn, because they don't want to look embarassed in front of everyone and show their disloyalty to the Dona. I don't know who's will they're trying to keep themselves in, because my grandparents don't have enough money to justify this behavior. Maybe they've just bought into the whole die Familie uber älles thing. I don't know. To me, my family is the one group of people I am associated with which I had no control over or choice of. I know there's a strong streak of "family loyalty" that runs through us hillbillies, but I guess it never took that strongly with me.

My personal favorite bit of loathsomeness is my father's brother. He's a thug, at best, and a hypocritical, insecure, 40-something school-yard bully at worst.

6. I'm a registered Democrat, although I would rather be an Independent. The Democrats are marginally less distasteful to me because they at least throw the little guy a bone every now and then to protect their power base. But I believe that George W. Bush is one of the greatests evils of the 21st century, and it's only five years old. That's saying a lot. My grandmother is, of course, staunchly conservative Republican.

7. I think Mousy (a distant family member, possibly my father's cousin, although I'm not sure) deserved to have his butt thrown in jail for life after he killed his girlfriend with a large-calibre pistol. He did it. He admitted to doing it. He deserves to be in jail, if not worse. I don't know how true it is, but I have heard through the grapevine that she begged for her life before he did it. As far as I am concerned, he doesn't deserve forgiveness. Ever. My grandmother disagrees. By this point, she has almost convinced herself that he didn't even do it, much less deserve to still be in prison for it.

8. And finally, I have a hard time appreciating the help my grandmother gave me when I was in high school and college. I can't say that I wouldn't be where I am now without her, but she sure made it easier for me along the way. But I have a hard time appreciating it all, because I feel as if there were invisible threads tied to it all. Not to mention the unspoken resentment it caused in my cousins, aunts and uncles. For a while, I was my grandmother's favorite. And it showed. I took ruthless advantage of that, in my own idiotic teenage way. But my grandmother has built up an invisible web of unspoken obligations and guilty feelings throughout my father's family. I got sick of it a long time ago, and walked away. That's why I haven't been to her house in years, and why I don't like to visit when she comes to this state. I'm sure she would say that all those things were just gifts, or at least loans. But as money-centric as she can be at times, I doubt she'd accept payment for the help she gave. That makes me even more sure that there were invisible costs. I don't like having debts that I will never be able to pay off, and those "invisible" ones are the worst.
Needless to say, most of these things would hurt my grandmother's feelings pretty severely if she knew I felt this way. It would hurt a lot of the rest of the family, as well. I make them out to be pretty bad in this post, and in fairness, I should point out that they all have their good sides. They all have their "good Christian values" sides. And some of the problems I stated above are "vices of your virtues" kinds of issues. But I can't help it. That's how I feel. That's why I've stayed away from the rest of the family for so long, because I feel this way. Being around them literally makes my teeth and jaws ache after a while, because I grind my teeth to keep from saying something that would hurt their feelings or cause a ruckus. I can't be myself around them. I haven't been able to do so since I was a teenager. I saw which way the wind was blowing when I was about to enter college and I was being questioned by my uncle (mentioned above) about what I wanted to do. I said something to the effect that I would eventually like to get into genetics. His response: "Why? So you can build the perfect man?" My reply: "No. More like trying to build the perfect tomato." I was serious. He thought I was joking. That's pretty typical, all told.

At the end of the day, what it boils down to is that I just don't miss my father's family that much. There's not enough connection there for me to be eager to see them. And that includes my grandmother. Maybe it's wrong of me to feel this way, but I can't help but do so. I tried to be the good grandson, and it just didn't work. So, I guess I'll have to be the real grandson, and hope she accepts me for who I am.

I'm not holding my breath.


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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain


Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu