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Monday, March 26, 2012

Why (Not) Be Normal?

(Image from activist Tom Beatie's website: )

Lately, I've been noticing a lot of "anti-normal" posting happening over on Facebook. It seems like my feed has been inundated by a flurry of memes, posters and witty sayings stating how undesirable "normalcy" is. Folks are proudly proclaiming not their individuality...but their weirdness.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with people stepping out of the mainstream. I've never been in the mainstream, though from the time I was little, I wanted to fit. I still do. I'd like to wear trendy clothing, have a clue what's going on in TV and movies, and to be able to tell you the difference between Adele and Katy Perry.

Well, Katy sometimes has blue hair. And she got dumped (or she dumped) Russel Brand.

And....(drumroll please...)

I don't like Dr. Who.

The thing is, a lot of people who really, really don't fit the mainstream find another slot to fit themselves into. Maybe they are Trekkers or Wiccans or anarchists...whatever. They can generally find a population in which they are "normal." In doing so, they've sought out acceptance and others like them. In doing so, they become normal within that population.

When I was a grade schooler, I was legally blind and my shyness literally crippled me. I had boobs in the fifth grade and while my IQ was well into the triple digits, I couldn't do simple math. To say I lacked common sense would be a gross understatement.

Eventually, I diagnosed with Non Verbal Learning Disorder which affects the ability to socially interact and certain linear thought processes. I can't always interpret body language and I"m generally the last to get a joke. (Most countries other than the US identify this as an autism spectrum disorder.) But as a child and teen, I didn't know there was something really off kilter.

I was frikkin' weird, and not by choice. I wanted so very much to be "normal."

As I grew older, kids started striking out, asserting their individuality while at the same time they tried to stay with the pack. I tried also, but one day at a craft show, I stumbled across this little know, the sort you put on your coat or hat? A button. It proclaimed:

"Why NOT Be Normal?"

And I grabbed it and wore it proudly for years. At the time, I didn't quite think of any deeper meanings other than the fact that by striving for "normal" I was bucking the tide. (I hit high school as hippies and disco queens were crashing into each other.) What I eventually managed to grasp was that a lot of people were thumbing their noses at "normal" while striving hard to to actually conform to a social norm of some sort. It didn't matter if it was the jocks/cheerleaders crowd, the band geeks or the guys in the wood shop, they all strove to fit into their mainstream.

In time, I managed to understand that my version of normal was unique and different than everyone else's normal. I wore what struck my fancy, without thinking about what people thought or how "in" it was. I stopped trying to make a statement and just learned to ease into myself. Most people liked me well enough but I ate lunch alone because I couldn't cope with the "highschoolness" of everything. Hell, none of them knew who Hannibal of Carthage was. Or Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. Or Leon Russell. I had a boyfriend who was one of the really cool boys, he managed to cross social lines where others didn't, but he'd get frustrated with me. What he loved about me also drove him crazy and I just didn't understand why he'd get angry. Another boyfriend...well, I literally didn't realize he was my boyfriend. Seriously. I thought we were just hanging out.

And then there was Larry and Steve...but we won't go into that right now.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that normalcy varies. It's defined as:

Adjective: Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.
Noun: The Usual, average, or typical state or condition.

It seems pretty straightforward, but tell me, who defines what is typical? Who defines what is normal? Well, we do. I know pretty much what to expect from myself. To me, my tastes in music, reading and entertainment are perfectly normal. It might not be what's normal to my neighbor or friend. If we strive to be other than our own state of normal, we aren't being true to ourselves.

And I suppose that's my message. Stop trying not to be normal. Stop trying to be normal. Just be the unique individual that you are inside and stop worrying about labels and definitions. A label such as "Weird" or "Normal" cannot possibly encompass the complexity and wonder of who we are as individuals. We spend way too much time thinking and worrying about this stuff and in the meantime, we lose sight of who we really are.

And even the most normal among us is an unique, inimitable individual. So let them be who they are, and do the same for yourself.

Happy Tails!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Blacque/Bleu is an EPIC Winner!

I was shocked and blown away to discover that my m/m romance Blacque/Bleu is this years EPIC winner i the Paranormal Romance category!

This was a special book to me, I held thoughts and memories of many friends close as I wrote it. Maybe that's what gave it that little bit of magic to push it to the win.

Anyhow, my thanks to the judges and to all the readers who took this book to their hearts.

Happy Tails!


Friday, March 16, 2012

When I Fall is a TRR "Best Of" Nominee!

An Uncommon Whore 2: When I Fall has been nominated at The Romance Review as best GLBT Science Fiction/Futuristic Romance!

There are many excellent books up for nomination so I encourage you to get on over and show your favorite authors some love!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

TMI, Anyone? My Sister the Junkie

I'm going to break a rule and share some personal stuff about my family. And be warned, its not nice. But it's important and yeah, I just feel the urge to share.

Today, my older sister finally admitted that she's a drug addict.

It was a long time coming...fifteen years...maybe more? I don't know, but after several failed attempts at getting her to get into...and remain in rehab, her husband finally sent her to a joint psychiatric/rehab facility. The one month visit has now stretched into 4 months and counting, and she's finally said the words.

Why the breakthrough? Because after decades of living with her abusive, psychotic and self-destructive behavior, my brother-in-law finally told her he's divorcing her.

I don't hate my sister, but I certainly don't like her either. She's been nightmarish for years, physically and emotionally abusing her husband and children, me, and anyone else who crosses her path. Yet most of the outside world doesn't know any of this. Most people believe that she's terminally ill, bed-bound and neglected by her cruel family. The wouldn't believe that she once broke a lamp over my head and back while I huddled in a corner of my bed, or that she gave her elderly mother a black eye.

The truth is, my sister is wealthy and has a Dr. Feelgood who will write her a scrip for whatever makes her happy. She's been on dosages of morphine so high the pharmacy she used at the time refused to fill the prescription. She's overdosed dozens of times, but it was the latest OD that finally tipped her family over the edge, and put the fear of God into her. Did I mention that she's a active, devoted Mormon? She's also a genius at manipulation and hiding her true nature. And she's violent.

Anyhow, she managed to cross Valium with some sort of powerful opiate on a patch and passed out. (OD'd on a patch???) Her kids called the ambulance when they couldn't rouse her, and they didn't know how long she'd been out. For the first time, her cynical oldest daughter believed that her mother might actually die.

When she woke in the hospital, she was surprised to see that her arms were covered with a deep and virulent bacterial infection. Turns out her cat tried to eat her while she was out. (Did I mention how much I hate cats? ~shudder!~) Then when she went to the bathroom, she found black ink marks on her chest and abdomen, and she realized they'd been prepping her to harvest her organs. Yeah, she was that close to death.

So. She finally agreed to rehab.

Every time a celebrity dies, I think of my sister. She was once brilliant and talented, with a will to achieve anything she set her mind on. She's rich, indulged and completely caught up in indulging her every want. She doesn't care who she hurts and she's never sorry. No one dares to say no to her. I say no to her, so she rarely talks to me. Which is nice since I've raised her daughter for the past 12 years. Keeps her out of my hair.

So now she's said the words. She understands that her husband is leaving her because she's an addict. I don't know if she realizes that she's also lost her children, her siblings and even her mother. She has no friends. But when she leaves the hospital, she'll be in a nice new home instead of a half-way house. When she divorces, she'll have all the money she'll ever need. She'll have complete security. Even though they don't want to, her family will make sure she's well and alive and will take care of her.

And she'll still be an addict.

What comes next remains to be seen. But I don't plan to be there to see it. My job is to protect my family, and if I have to protect them from her, then so be it.

I've got to protect myself as well.

Next post will be about addiction and mental illness, from my point of view.