Issue 2.1 Homepage

Article Contents
·Ordinary Life
·Odd Moments
·The Public
·A Still
·Still Life
·Home Alone
·The Perfectly Ordinary Life
·Still Watching
·Works Cited

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Kathleen Stewart, "The Perfectly Ordinary Life" (page 2 of 11)

Ordinary Life

We were busy.

Home filled with the grounding details of getting the rent money together, getting or keeping the job, getting sick, getting well, looking for love, trying to get out of something you'd gotten yourself into, eating in and working out, raising kids and walking dogs, home-remodeling and shopping. There were distractions, denials, shape-shifting forms of violence, practical solutions and real despair. For some, one wrong move was all it took. Worries swirled around the bodies in the dark. People bottomed out watching daytime television. Credit cards were maxed out. There was downsizing and unemployment. There was competition to get the kids in a decent school, to keep their grades up; schedules had to be constantly juggled to keep up with dance classes or a lay off. Dizzying layers of tasks filled in the space of a day.

People took walks in their neighborhood, peering into windows by night and murmuring over beautiful flowerbeds by day. Or we scrambled to find a way to get to work and back on unreliable buses that quit running at night. We baked birthday cakes, or ordered them from the supermarket decorated with Tigger or a golf course. We flipped off other drivers, read the luscious novels and sobering memoirs, disappeared into the net, shopped at Wal-Mart and the other mega stores because they were cheap, or convenient, or new, and they had slogans like "Getting it Together" and "Go Home a Hero."

Positions were taken, habits loved and hated, dreams launched and wounded. There was pleasure in a clever or funny image. Or in being able to see right through things. Some people claimed they could rise above the flow, walk on water. Others wore their irony like an accessory that gave them room to maneuver. There were all the dreams of purity, martyrdom, a return to nature, getting real, having an edge, beating the system.

Just about everyone was part of the secret conspiracy of ordinary life to get what you could out of it. There were the dirty pleasures of holing up to watch your secret bad TV show or the trip to the mall or the spinning classes at the gym or the nights on the Internet or the music played loud in the car on the way to the supermarket.

S&F Online - Issue 2.1, Public Sentiments - Ann Cvetkovich and Ann Pellegrini, Guest Editors - ©2003.