I’ll Tell You What’s Normal…

I spend my days skating on the edge of normalcy.  So far I’ve been able to avoid unwelcome attention, but that’s due more to good luck than good management.  I can get away with my quirks as long as I live in a nice neighbourhood and shower frequently, but put me on a park bench after a hard workout, and somebody’s gonna call the loony-catchers.

This was brought home to me the other day when Hubby was driving and I was sitting in the passenger seat writing dialogue in my head as usual.  He glanced over and said, “Writing again, aren’t you?”

I shook myself back to reality and asked, “How did you know?”

“Easy.  You had that thousand-yard stare.”

I have what I prefer to call an “expressive” face.  What this really means is that there’s a near-one-hundred-percent probability that if someone snaps a picture, I’ll look moronic.  Sometimes when I’m absorbed in planning or writing a particularly intense scene, I can feel my face twisting into expressions of fear, anger, or whatever.

Add that to the fact that I almost never know the date and often take two tries to correctly identify the day of the week, and I’m concerned that if I ever get hospitalized and asked orientation questions, they’ll lock me up permanently.

So in the interests of retaining my freedom, I decided it might be smart to write a short primer on what constitutes normal behaviour for me.  At least it’ll provide a basis for the authorities to shrug and say, “Yeah, she’s always been like that.  We probably don’t need to lock her up yet.”

So here goes:

  • It is normal for me not to know the day/date.  If I’m travelling, I may not always get the city/province right on the first try, either.
  • It is normal for me to lapse into an apparently catatonic state during which my eye movements mimic REM sleep and my face assumes various inappropriate expressions.  It’s also normal for me to be irritated when summarily roused from this state.
  • It is normal for me to suddenly and inexplicably groan, slap my forehead, and rush to my office to type madly for minutes or hours. This may happen at any time of the day or night, and includes bolting upright out of an apparently sound sleep and scurrying away to type in the wee hours.

With hallmarks like these, it may be difficult to determine what is abnormal behaviour for me, so here’s a handy list of danger signs.

I need professional help if:

  • I turn down the opportunity to go to a nice restaurant or a blues jam or a drag race.
  • I fail to fondle fabric when walking through a fabric store.
  • There’s a garden available and I don’t plant something.
  • I take my car in for an oil change instead of doing it myself.
  • I don’t bake when it’s cloudy/raining/snowing… unless I’m reading or writing (those activities trump baking).
  • I pass up an opportunity to shoot a handgun, rifle, shotgun, bow, slingshot, or any other projectile weapon.
  • I walk past an unassembled jigsaw puzzle.
  • I don’t dissolve into a revolting pile of sappy mush at the sight of kittens.
  • I spill beer.  That’s a danger sign in itself, but if I don’t show extreme remorse afterward, it’s already too late – I’m beyond help.

What are your danger signs?

32 thoughts on “I’ll Tell You What’s Normal…

  1. I get that Thousand Yard Stare too. Sometimes I’m not really thinking about anything at all, it’s just that there’s some sort of white noise whooshing through my head. I get annoyed when someone interrupts the stare too, even when it’s just the white noise.

    The danger signs for me—also involve not collapsing into a pile of goo with kittens, puppies or any other cute animals, saying “No thanks, I’m not really hungry,” not wanting to go into a bookstore, or not wanting to stop at a coffee shop or restaurant. If I do any of those things, then I must have had some sort of stroke.


  2. If I start understanding all the “notes to myself” that I write on random scraps of paper – it’s loony bin time. What the heck is “Lethbridge”? Apparently it was important enough to write – legibly even – in pen on a paper towel. LOL


  3. As soon as I stop being annoyed at being interrupted, I should check myself into some clinic/asylum. It is a terrible thing to be, but it is who I am… 😉


  4. Hehehe….out of the whole post I was totally tickled by your fondling of fabrics! LOL!

    I think that would be my danger sign….becoming a little more loony than usual. My sister caught me day dreaming once and she said I looked like a psycho 😀


  5. If I ever go an entire day without complaining about someone or something, that’s almost a sure sign that I’ve fallen and hit my head. It hasn’t happened yet, but if it ever does, I need to be kept awake and taken for x-rays.

    How great that your husband recognizes when you’re writing in your mind. Does he know to leave you alone and wait for you to re-emerge?


    • If your complaints are as witty as your blog, it would be a sad day indeed if you stopped complaining!

      And I have yet to determine Hubby’s algorithm for deciding whether to leave me in peace or not. Sometimes he does, and other times it’s more like, “Yeah, I thought so. Hey, did I tell you about… yak, yak, yak…” Maybe it’s time for a flow chart analysis. 😉


  6. Great list – it’s good to let people know what to expect sometimes. Most people should come with warning labels.
    Plus I have to admit that SOBUMD caught me out a while ago. We were driving, and she looked over at me and said, “You’re fantasizing again, aren’t you?” I can only imagine what the look on my face was like….


  7. Now you’ve got me wondering if I have odd expressions while I’m writing. I’ve known it for years when I’m drawing faces. I have the exact expression of the face I’m trying to draw. If it’s a mean person, I can be terrifying. (Not really. It is one of my great regrets in life that I don’t scare anyone.)

    Folks on my old mail route sure knew when I was writing. It was my “get to know the neighbors” plan. By evening pretty much everyone had their correct mail.


    • I like the “get to know the neighbours” plan! For the same reason, I try not to drive when I’m deep in a story – too damn dangerous.

      And yeah, the face thing is the reason why I always avoid restaurants and bars where I have to sit facing a mirror. It’s far too disturbing to watch my own face while I converse.


  8. Useful list. I’ll keep it handy if I ever head far north.

    “I spill beer” … in a previous life we used to call that alcohol abuse and you’d have to take a drink with the toast “always a pleasure Mr Chairman.”



    • I subscribe to the Irish belief that at the gates of heaven you’ll be suspended head-down in a barrel containing all the alcohol you’ve ever spilled, and if you drown, to hell with you. 😉


  9. Wow, I’m impressed that you know yourself that well. I honestly don’t know what is normal for me. I can tell you that it is a danger sign if I express a desire to cook a meal or go grocery shopping.


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