Monday, August 13, 2012


August 12, Ypsilanti.

I should have known.
I for whom words are my life, reading and writing my passion, I used the wrong word.  The word normal, a simple word, in one sentence, and it conveyed the wrong idea altogether.  Worse, it is a word that represent a concept I distrust and dislike, one of those slippery concepts dear to deconstructionists of all stripes, a word that can mean everything to everybody and still mean very little.
It is also the wrong word for someone who has spent her entire life running away from whatever the norms are.  I was one of those kids that felt different by the fact of just being, punk then New Wave, dieying my hair red, then blue, spending my days walking the streets of Paris with buskers from around the world, outsiders if there ever were, leaving my country at the first opportunity, choosing the path least traveled, challenging myself at every corner to do something that felt the least familiar, the farther away from home, running away with the circus, the essence of not normal for the vast majority of people, people who live in houses that don't move, go to schools that have walls, people that don't walk around in the mud to go to work in leotards.
It is a dumb word, really, or rather a non-word, norm defined by its absence, vanishing as you try to grab it, and I want nothing with it or its shadow.


Rose Fox said...

I always think of normal as the color beige.

...but its also shorthand for what you, accurately and distinctly, tried to convey. Its just that shorthand is hard to understand sometimes, all those wiggles. Like words, wiggling around in meaning in ones mind.

...and; I agree, normal is a relative thing...and usually that relative who sends you socks or a scratchy sweater.

Don't beat yourself up, Valerie. You chose a word that you thought conveyed better in a stereotypical way. You didn't do wrong.

...and I think we all understood, but in our own choices of language we may not have conveyed that well. In trying to support you we may have supported mis understanding.

So forgive us.

...and avoid beige at all costs.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it was a mistake to use the word. It seems like it may have helped you to look at things from a different perspective. Sometimes it helps to see things from the outside looking in.

Arts in the Family said...

Ditto. We understood and in the end, that's all that really counts.

Alberto Ramirez Jr.

tavanee said...

I think my sister,Tepa is very wise.

tavanee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susabelle said...

What is "normal?" We all have our definitions. And they are likely not going to apply to any other person. I live a "normal" life by your description - a house that doesn't move, my daughter attends a school with walls, a day-in-day-out job that doesn't really change from week to week or month to month or year to year, except in small, subtle ways that we don't notice because it changes so slowly.

But you must know that many envy you, the "freedom" you seem to have (and I know better - I know what circus life is like), the different life you get to lead, while the rest of us do something rather boring with ours.

And you look at ours and think, "I want that." Envy of other's situations is so basic, so pervasive, so threaded into we humans. The bible says envy is bad, but I'm not biblical (or religious) so I think that's a bit of nonsense. Envy gives you the ability to see how others do it, to see what possibilities might be out there, to decide if we like what/how we are, or if we could make some changes to achieve other goals for ourselves. Envy is only bad when it leads to crimes of theft or passion or when we mimic another in direct detail.

We are all individuals. That's why our ideas of "normal" are so different. The word itself is not pejorative, and even in the way you used it, it was not pejorative. You were describing how you feel. And that is never wrong.