Saturday, February 8, 2014

c'est normal

This time next week, I'll waking up in Paris. I can hardly believe it. These past two months have both dragged on and flown by. I've gotten used to "American" things that had startled me at first--the noise level, breadth of options, friendly customer service, and all-around enthusiasm. So soon I'm meant to settle back into my Franglish life while working on my nouvelle Americain thesis.
When we speak about culture, we usually refer to it as if it is inherent to both a people and a place. It's not. To put it simply: the cultures we know today have been created (imagined even) by repeated habits sprung from circumstances and resources; they've influenced norms we accept as Truth. Throughout my studies, while adapting to more than one set, I've questioned them as well.
I'm excited to critically dissect American identity from abroad. It might even be the most efficient way to do so--from the outside looking in, with an otherwise innate understanding. I hope to uncover something of value that lends itself to the complexities of how we define ourselves in a swiftly globalizing world. (Such a nerd). Only then will I graduate, move, and settle into stability.
Sometime this year, life will become significantly more normal. And yet, I know the very concept of "normality" is manufactured, too. My least favorite French phrase is: c'est normal. I've heard it said sarcastically, thereby eliciting a condescending judgement. But normal as defined by Ellen Goodman, for instance: "getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it," isn't all that appealing. So I'll create my normal; one of adventure, comfortfrugality, and satisfaction. For the first time in a long time, whether by naivety or maturity, I believe it's not only possible, but necessary.

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