Posts Tagged ‘normal’

Part of what contributes to the general apathy and sense of absent culture in America is that very little of America’s culture actually means anything!

I realized this at last when watching a documentary about the rise of Ghost Dances among Native American/American Indian (please pick your preferred adjective) tribes.  These dances had profound meaning to the tribes who practiced them.

That’s what got me thinking about what anything in American culture means, and realizing it means nothing.  There is no spiritual aspect to our dances, there is no deeper heritage connected to our daily lives, our folk-tales no longer teach or warn but have been watered down and sterilized for the masses by Disney.  Even our holidays have limited historical context and are either highly commercialized or highly alcoholized.

Drive fast, shoot guns, buy shit, get drunk, and live happily ever after!  Fuck Yeah, ‘Merica!

Parts of the country have communities that share more among their neighbors than merely streets of address but there is very little depth to any aspect of uniquely American culture.

Even parts of it that aren’t unique have less depth for us than for others.  We have a pitiful voter turn-out rate.  I remember watching the news a few years back where people in Iraq brave IEDs, suicide bombers, and more just to cast their vote.  In the US, a heavy rain can keep someone from the polls.  Even among those who had to fight hardest to get the right to vote, there is a sad turn-out of voters.

Without any meaning to why we do some things, the things themselves become empty gestures, traditions without foundations.  No wonder so many people seek meaning elsewhere, from other places in the world.  There is nothing that American culture has to offer the spirit.

We have fast food outlets in hospital cafeterias while proposing laws regarding the size of our sodas and whether or not we can have table salt in restaurant dishes.  We are a culture that has embraced a certain level of daily insanity to the point that we can’t even see that it’s insane.

Meanwhile, I curl up in my 58 degree Fahrenheit house eating cold food with my fingers that society tells me should be eaten hot with utensils while discussing the insanity in our politics and social interactions, and am thus informed of how not normal I am (totally complementary, by the way) by those closest and dearest to me, leaving me to wonder what normal is for everyone else because this *is* normal for me, I don’t know any other way of living and thinking.

Sometimes we focus too much on what other people think.  Sometimes we don’t think enough of how other people will feel.  We play a strange balancing act between herd mentality and individuality.

We dress just like everyone else in the latest brands, then get upset if someone else is wearing the same thing we are.
We want to have the same stores available no matter where we go but we want everything packaged in single servings.
We go to the same restaurants but have ten caveats for every meal we order.

It used to be if you visited a different town, you had different stores, because stores were owned by people instead of nation-wide franchises.  If you wanted Bill’s Best Garden Tools you had to either be lucky enough to live near Bill’s town, have a relative in Bill’s town, or you had to travel.

Later we had Bill teaming up with Ted to bring Bill’s goods to Ted’s store in another town, Bill’s goods being popular enough to demand a greater supply and Bill being able to produce enough to supply a greater demand.  This was great, especially if the local Garden Tool guy’s goods weren’t very good quality, or maybe you just really didn’t like him.

Now you can travel not just town to town but state to state and find not only the exact same stores, but the store looks exactly the same, the building is built the same, the inside is laid out the same.

Sure, it’s nice I guess, but we’ve lost so much richness and creativity to this kind of universal conformity.  It means nothing we buy really means anything, either.  Half of it is disposable to begin with, and for all we value individuality we have almost nothing that is truly unique (and then we go to other countries and tell them to be just like us!)

So now we have useless traditions filled with meaningless objects and we can move anywhere and have all the things we’re used to and yet we belong nowhere.  And the more we’re forced to be the same the more we act out to set ourselves apart, the more we look to other cultures to find some sense of meaning and fulfillment because American Culture is rooted in being dissatisfied with what you have and who you are: you don’t make enough, you don’t own enough, you aren’t thin enough, your hair isn’t straight enough, your clothes aren’t new enough, your beat poetry isn’t edgy enough, and no one understands you!

So what?

Maybe the reason no one cares about American Culture is there’s a whole lot that isn’t worth caring about.  But there is some that is.  There are some beautiful, golden threads to be found in this vast American tapestry we have woven.   I think my next entry will be looking at some of those.


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I don’t want to change my name when I get married.

Not out of some feminist stance against male domination, not out of some fight against custom, not out of some desire to constantly correct people who will think me and my future theoretical non-existent husband are not married…

Because I like my name.  It’s the only name I’ve ever had.  It belonged to my father, and he passed it to me, and I don’t want to give it up just cause I’m ‘a girl.’

Okay, so maybe it IS some fight against custom and male domination.  It’s not that I think women change their names *today* because there is some misogynistic conspiracy to keep women down.  I think it is a hold-over from a time when women were property, though.  Just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean we have to follow it.  Even if the meaning behind a custom changes to something neutral or good doesn’t mean I have to follow it now.

Think about it.  A woman used to be her father’s property, until a husband bought her (or was paid to take her, whichever way the dowry went in a particular culture) at which point she was transferred to the ownership of her husband, illustrated through taking his name.

It’s also why I don’t like engagement rings.  Why is a woman marked as his property and taken, but a man isn’t?

This is also why I REALLY. F#*ING. HATE. when people start talking about the ‘traditional definition of marriage’ because the traditional definition was the transfer of ownership from father to husband the valuable property known as ‘woman’ (or girl), and she was marked as his belonging.  That is why women suffer most for things such as family “honour”.  She is not a person, she is a token, a prize.  And more often than not, shared this role with other women for the man’s benefit.

So no, I don’t give a S*%T about the ‘traditional’ definition as something sacred to be protected or defended.  Every generation gets to define the world around itself.  This is how changes happen at all, because one day someone decided something needed to be done, or needed to stop being done, and enough people finally agreed, and they changed it.  So yes, change the definition: marriage is no longer about possession and ownership, it’s about love and commitment, and that is NOT confined to “one woman, one man.”

…where was I?  Oh, right, my name.

So someday I really do want to get married.  Really, I had intended to have done that by now – get married, have some kids, maybe adopt (I’d really love to adopt or foster) – but I haven’t managed to find anyone who is either capable of living with me, or who I’m capable of living with.  I know they’re out there, these compatible people, but they’re sort of like Schrodinger’s Cat: until one is observed, they will exist in a purely theoretical state of simultaneous existence and non-existence.

But when I do get married, I won’t change my name.  I’ve actually had this thought for a long time, but didn’t have the nerve to buck social convention, but it’s my name, dammit, and it’d be my marriage, and it’s ME, and that gives me the right to do it how I want.

Which may just be why I’ve yet to find Mr. Compatible.

Because let’s face it, there’s no such thing as Mr. Perfect and dear god how boring would he be anyway!?  So Mr. Compatible it is.  Or Miss, I suppose, might happen.  I’m not going to close off my options.  That’s a whole level of social upset that I’m happy to fight for, but not necessarily for myself yet.

And yet I still identify as straight, even though I am probably more bi, but really only in a romantic way rather than a sexual way.  That might need its own entry…

So, Washington, and some of you other states who are thinking about it, there’s only a few days left, but you can really make a difference for a lot of couples who desperately need the protection of law for their families.  Vote to allow same-sex couples to get married, k?  It really ISN’T going to hurt anyone to have the same rights most of us already have.

And if you mention “but a child needs a mother *and* a father” bull, I’ll ask why you aren’t out there petitioning to have CPS take all children away from single-parent households since clearly these are not in the best interests of the child, by your own definition.

I think I’ve wandered off-topic again.

No to changing my name.  No to an engagement ring.  I’m not property, you aren’t buying me, branding me, or warning others that I’m ‘taken’.  I’m quite capable of informing people myself if I’m engaged, and if I don’t, then why would you want to marry me anyway?

And I guess I’ll just learn to live with correcting people or explaining myself.  I already do anyway when I have to explain to people I don’t eat pork (no, not for any religious reason) and I’m lactose intolerant, but only a little so long as I don’t have too much dairy or have it too often.

Let’s face it, we live in a world of norms.  That does not make being outside the norm *bad*, it just makes it not assumed, and therefore usually requires at least a very small amount of commentary when interacting with people when these particular un-norms come into play.

It’s why I get upset when people get upset that someone assumed they were something they aren’t when 93% of people are.  Maybe it is tiring to constantly correct people, but it’s to be expected.

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