Relationships are hard

I wrote this today and showed it to my wife. Her reaction was not what I had expected.

Why am I so depressed right now?  I can’t even think of a reason to be so.  I even had a breakthrough with Hyang yesterday about my atheism.

And yet this is how I feel.  Is it just some chemical imbalance in my head?  No.  It’s my frustration over not being of the same mind regarding this issue with Hyang.  I don’t want to be divided over this.  I want to convince her that christianity is messed up, that there is no god.

But I wonder if that is the right thing to do, or if it’s even possible.  I even feel a little guilty for wishing for it.  I don’t want to take her happiness away and I don’t know how connected that is with her religion.

All I know is that I am sad because of this division, and I know she is too.  I just don’t know how to restore our unity of belief.

Even though it is an unhappy business, I think the best course of action is the one we have chosen.  we need to respect and accept one another, acknowledging our differences while not forcing them on the other.

I thought that she would see the commonality we shared, that both of us were frustrated with this divide and that though the belief systems we hold are different, that the many of the same emotions and sentiments were still held in common. Instead, she seems to have taken my writing as confirmation that I am somehow the enemy and that she cannot have peace with me.

My first reaction was to apologize, to try and ameliorate the situation. But then I thought, what have I done wrong? I was simply trying to be honest about the frustrations that I believed we both share regarding the situation we find our relationship in. We had had a good talk just the day before, and we had agreed to be open and honest with each other, to keep the lines of communication open and to respect and accept each other even if we didn’t approve of each others beliefs.

So, here I am again, wondering what I can do to improve our relationship. It occurs to me now that perhaps it was simply too much too soon, and that the compressed schedule was too fast for her. On the other hand, our problem has been exactly that Hyang’s approach to our problem has been to largely ignore it, which leaves me feeling emotionally isolated and alone in this struggle to fit our two lives together in a congenial fashion. It is so frustrating not being able to figure out a middle way between facilitating evasion and overwhelming her. Honestly, I don’t even know if there is such a third option.

And honestly, I am a little frustrated with Christianity and the ambiguous manner with which it paints people like me, which I believe to be contributing to the difficulties my wife having in figuring out how to treat with me. On the one hand, there is the example of Jesus consorting with the less desirable elements of society as well as Paul’s explicit instructions to not divorce the unbelieving spouse.

At the same time however, the unbeliever is a fool, an inveterate liar, and stands accused of a whole host of immoral behaviors. I can understand the concern and even anxiety this would cause if one’s husband suddenly transformed into such an individual. Add to this the likelihood that not only would such a person not assist you in guiding your children from eternal torment, but would actively seek to lead into said horror. The only rational response to such a situation would be to isolate yourself from this person in the most practicably effective manner possible.

I don’t know how someone is supposed to handle this kind of tension in a “biblical” manner, but it certainly seems understandable that many Christian spouses would feel something akin to being legally obligated to reside with a known psychopath. You might have no choice in the manner, but within the letter of the law you’ll do whatever you can to minimize you and your families exposure. Even if they don’t legally divorce their atheist spouse, they have already emotionally divorced themselves from the person and the legal issues are but a mere formality.

So, I hope that it doesn’t come as too big of a surprise when I express some frustration with how Christianity has, in effect, poisoned the well of our relationship. I have not given up, and will continue to persevere in my efforts towards effecting a harmonious and happy environment for my wife and children, but I do not believe that Christianity is proving to be a boon in this effort, despite claims made in its name to being family friendly.

Learning and Education

I’ve been thinking about the difference between these two, and I think it comes down to one being child-like and the other being the province of adulthood. Learning is about discovery, exploration, and the excited anticipation of something new. Education is about production, deadlines, and the rote application of memorized techniques. And as I have said before, I believe that my difficulties in school have fundamentally revolved around my mistaken conflation of these two.

I don’t recall really enjoying primary school. I think this is because for the most part it was education as I described it above. All of this changed, however, after fifth grade, when it seemed to me to more or less transform the experience into learning. I loved the constant discovery of new things, how mathematics was like a riddle waiting to solved, or the sweeping grandeur of time and people in history. But I especially enjoyed the sciences. It felt like being a kid who was finally allowed to take apart a clock to see how it worked, and there was whole worlds to be discovered in the intricacy of all the pieces and how they fit together. Plus, at least to me, it seemed like you could bring in all of your other studies into science as well. There was a little bit of history, a lot of mathematics, and then just the pure wonder of just understanding the world around me a little better. Sure, there was homework, but it all seemed so easy when your curiosity took you well beyond what the test required of you.

And this is how I thought college would be like as well, and I repeatedly approached it this way, despite the constant frustration and failure I experienced from doing so. It was only within the last year or so that I really let go of this naive notion and accepted that a college education was more like what I said earlier with production and application of rote memorization and not the learning experience I had hoped for. This realization comes with not a little disappointment. But I also wonder about my future. I would love to teach, but it is all connected to my love of learning. But this experience has left me wondering if I can really do this. Or I could just be depressed. Or both.

Anyway, the dichotomy above is a false one. Education can be just as positive as learning. And there is nothing particularly wrong even if the dichotomy holds, since production, techniques and deadlines are really all about the application of knowledge, which can only be obtained through learning. But I think some of the childhood innocence and liberty is lost because it is no longer knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but rather knowledge for the purpose of some other endeavor. And this means that learning is compromised and limited because knowledge is no longer the primary goal and so is subject to the necessities of the purpose to which it is now secondary.

Even then, though, it is not necessarily a negative experience. For as long as you can choose your own application for the knowledge, applying knowledge is in itself a form of learning, as you discover the different ways that the knowledge can engage the world around you and to test and refine that knowledge with such experience. But more often than not, you are not your own master, and someone else whose primary goal is not the expansion of knowledge, but rather the pursuit of prestige or financial gain. These goals certainly make use of knowledge, but only in so far as they improve the production of the means of power. The pursuit of additional knowledge is discouraged as inconsequential or even detrimental to the overall goal.

And ultimately, this is what education feels like. I am being informed, explicitly or implicitly, that I am not there to learn, but rather to be educated, to produce, meet deadlines, and develop the application of rote memorization. All learning that is not directly involved in this pursuit is wasted effort at best, and a detriment to the primary objective at worse. And they are right if educational production is the goal, so it isn’t as though I can really argue with it. Yet I still mourn the dream and have a certain sense of bitterness towards the reality that has forced me to abandon it.

Trapped

Trapped in this cage I constructed myself
I find myself without a way out.
Barred on every side with the cold steel
Of expectations, hopes and dreams.
Where is the key that will release me
From the bonds of a life turned wrong.
It grates against me, this deception I perpetrate
Careful words and judicious omissions.
This facade shakes precariously in the wind
Nothing else remains of me.
When can I allow myself to be real again
No longer a wooden boy on strings.
I dance because of these strings, they pull me
Every which way they choose.
But we are all trapped in this world of lies
Each of us incapable of being real.
All I can do is play my part well, and hope
That another will be free because of it.
Or so I wish to tell myself. Another lie
To keep the truth of my pain away.

My letter to Sentelic

Sent via their website:

I purchased a laptop from CyberPower Gaming PC’s (www.cyberpowerpc.com) with your Sentelic Finger Sensing Pad installed on the laptop. I purchased this computer without Windows, fully intending to use one of the Linux distributions I already have available to me.

But I have discovered that the driver that you have released for Linux use is severely impaired, and that this impairment is intentional on your part. I cannot express how disappointed I am with your company and product.

This experience has driven home one very important point to me, and that is that you do not care for you customers. I will almost certainly be wary of your product in the future and will do my very best to avoid it for more helpful competitors, like Synaptics. Congratulations on driving away another potential customer.

No FreeBSD

It had been my hope, now proven vain, that the stable version of FreeBSD 8 would work where the release candidate had not, but no such luck. It still freezes without even getting to a point of loading, saying “Trying to mount root from ufs:/dev/md0”. And that is where it stops trying. I tried disabling the legacy support for USB (another website mentioned USB support as a potential problem) as well as running it without ACPI support and in safe mode. None of these permutations resulted in anything better than the initial effort.

Apparently the mail list already has mention of this problem for Toshiba Satellites, so I guess it should come as no surprise, but I had hoped that perhaps they would have ironed the issue out in time for the final release. Alas, it was not to be. So, it appears I will be continuing for some time longer in Linux land. I would still like to get a version of KDE running in some kind of stable manner, but that doesn’t seem to be happening with Kubuntu and I haven’t given openSUSE a run since it failed to keep the backlight for my monitor on. Maybe I should try Fedora. Not really sure where I am going to turn next.

This sucks

I don’t know where else to talk about this, and I don’t entirely feel comfortable writing it on my blog either. It is because I don’t know what to do about it, or rather I don’t know what I want to do about it. I know I want to talk to someone, but I am concerned about what kind of reactions I will get, even from people who want to be helpful. Perhaps especially from people who want to be helpful.

I am stuck in the middle of a depressive episode right now, and am really struggling to muster anything but a desire for escapist entertainment (this time it’s manga). It is torture to try and move myself to take care of even the simple stresses that life is presenting me. I am not looking for advice, or sympathy. I just need to write this out, to communicate it to someone, perhaps so I am not alone with these feelings. They don’t even need to be acknowledged.

I hope that this speaking about it will allow me to acknowledge the situation within myself and to take the first steps towards moving past it and getting a grip on both my depression and the various situations that I need to deal with but haven’t because of my depression. Thanks for listening.