Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Passing For Normal

Abbie Normal
Norma L.

By whose standard do we measure ourselves and our alignment with other humans? I've been pondering this extensive spectrum of possibilities for years. I once planned to write a book about it: Realms of Normalcy.

I've given up. I recently saw a Tony Award winning play at a local theater called "Next to Normal."  Along with playwright, Craig Lucas, I conclude that I can aim for a position bordering the arena, but never achieve solid standing within.
photo by daughter, Mary Ann Edwards
These last months I've been alternating between Abbie and Norma. I appreciate all of you who have inquired about my obvious absence and excursion into the land of inadequacy and abnormality.

For months I have avoided my computer because it was a medium that conveyed messages of disapproval (a very strong one coming from someone quite close to me). It was surprising to me how certain events shut me up. I felt increasingly that what I believed and said wasn't important. Now those same musings have freed me to spew forth just because I do care less and less and certainly have no control over others' reactions and impressions anyway.  My silence has been deepened by serious concerns for my children and the death of two of my closest friends (a third is struggling with stage 4 metastasized melanoma). 

The realization that Mother is gone looms large in my emotional body. Thanksgiving marked the one-year anniversary of her death.
I still feel like an alien in a strange land as I struggle to speak or write cogent ideas. I miss my blogging friends and their varied reactions to life. I keep waiting for my second wind. I think at this stage of life, my second wind is death.

I've almost forgotten how the internet works and in logging back on, I see that most of my social networks have changed their formats, making them social notworks. As I have rejected and ignored electronic devices, I've mused over the elegance of delay. I've day-dreamed about circumstances where no immediate response is required or desired. I've wanted people to call me no sooner than when urgently moved to do so. The cellphonics have worn me down to a stubble of indifference. Don't text me. If you must leave a message, preface it with "this message has been mulled over and impact-considered for hours." Or better yet, write me a letter that begins with, "Dear Kass, I carried this missive for days in my breast pocket. It leaned earnestly against my heart and now I say to you that the weight of its impact has worked on me, causing me to spill out with....." (then say something loaded with caffeine).

In this self-imposed exile I've been enjoying for almost a year now, I've visited the Land of Shame and Guilt, a familiar place I go when I feel homesick. I talk to close friends about recorded loops that keep playing in my head. Most of them offer that all these concerns hinge on events that happened years ago. They tell me to let it go. It's in the past. I tell them it's not in the past. It's in my body. I'd like to be hooked into reality without being "hooked," but I'm addicted to my sick thoughts. I know you can't fix a sick mind with a sick mind, but I keep trying.

I visited the Tetons this summer and took a running, 
jumping, flying leap off a high mountain.
A perfect landing after soaring on thermals for 15 minutes with instructor, Cade Palmer
 It was a wonderful experience (among many that keep me quite happily engaged in life despite my intermittent retreats into melancholy).

Now that I'm back on the blogwagon, I want to share a few of the many physical ways I have tried to pass for normal even though it's increasingly obvious that I am not a mainstream, socially-approved individual.
Why I wear bangs

I always add material between the zipper and side pockets (creating a girdle of sorts) so my hips don't appear bigger than they are. Many higher-end slacks already have this feature.


 Big ears pinned to loops added to the middle of my ears for the express purpose of pinning big ears back.
 When I feel fancy, I attach decorations to the loops.
Most of my life I have had the unfortunate anxiety-producing combination of No Impulse Control and Caring Too Much What Other People Think. As you can imagine, this has created a perpetual cycle of regret. In trying to preserve or maintain what's left of my imagined dignity, I've confronted a society given over to a collective identification with frenzy. Maybe we all have a degree of Tourette's Syndrome with its accompanying rapping, hip-hopping bumbledom of multitasking to fulfill spurious requirements for living.

I think I'm finally ready to be myself, warts and all. The effects of age are harder and harder to camouflage and the effort it takes creates more stress and wrinkles. Life is too short for pretense and posturing. As Annette Bening said in the film, The Women (when assaulted by a department store cosmetic hawker), "This is my face. Deal with it."

I'm curious about methods any of you might have employed to fit the mainstream or attempt to go along with a socially imposed current that we are continually conditioned to care about. Please share.
Standing firm against the current