I recently watched and became completely HOOKED on the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black”.

For those of you who have not seen this series – I highly recommend!   Orange Is the New Black is based upon the real life of Piper Chapman, an Ivy League graduate from Connecticut living in New York City. Piper is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison for transporting drug money for an international drug smuggler who is Piper’s ex-lover.  This all occurred during a post-college experimental phase in Piper’s life.  The offense occurred ten years prior to the start of the first episode.  In those years, Piper moved on to a quiet law-abiding life, complete with a great apartment and fiancée ~ living among New York’s upper middle class.  The episodes track her experiences in prison and at some point in time; Piper realizes that this “new life” has become her “new normal”.

After watching the series ~ it struck me that my life is in a strange way a little bit like Piper’s journey.  As the parent of a passion-driven ballerina ~ Crazed IS my New Normal.

For starters – we live in a sweet little town on the St. Croix River; the birthplace of Minnesota with its Main Street filled with “old timey” shops and restaurants.  Our quaint neighborhood has a quiet “village” feel ~ porches on the front of every house, sidewalks, green spaces ~ not to mention an elementary school, pub, yoga studio, bank and other shops and resources within a few blocks of each house.   We chose this town and this neighborhood for the reasons just stated.  In fact, we moved 30 miles AWAY from the “big city” to provide this experience for our kids.

Guess what?

We now drive 30 miles INTO the “big city”…..the same city we moved away from ~ 6 days each week for ballet.  We moved to our small town 8 years ago and we have been driving this schedule for 6 of the 8 years. Irony at its best.

My crazed normal is the fact that I try to keep some semblance of “family dinner time”.  This means each night we ALL wait until my daughter arrives home from ballet to sit down for dinner….typically 8:30 p.m.

After this, begins the homework process ~ hours of homework.  Bedtime is not often before midnight.

The fact that midnight is “normal” is in fact proof of my crazed state of normal.

In one of the episodes of Orange is the New Black, Piper’s fiancée comes to visit her.  As they sit in the visitor’s area, her fiancée looks around at some of the other inmates and remarks at the “crazy” and “horrible” people she is being forced to live with.  Piper becomes offended by this remark and comments that “these crazy people were NOT horrible” that she is “just like them” and that they “were her friends”.  This was the first glimpse of proof that she had changed….that she had a “new normal”.

When I pause to consider my “new normal” I am able to find proof throughout my day-to-day life.

The proof shows up when a new acquaintance or friend seems shocked by our family’s schedule…. shocked that we would actually allow this type of “crazed” existence.  In my mind I am thinking “what other option is available?”  Crazed.

Throughout the episodes of Orange is the New Black, Piper witnesses and even participates in heinous and nightmarish prison “events”. Her perspective of “normal” continues to shift as she is no longer shocked or fazed by what is occurring around her.

While not heinous or nightmarish, I realize that I am no longer fazed by our day-to-day “events” as the parent of a ballerina.  I no longer think it odd to have a laundry room littered with dozens of drying tights after being hand washed.

I no longer think it odd that my husband knows how to hand wash the tights in a pinch.

I am no longer fazed by the fact that I call directly to Queens NY and order multiple pairs of Pointe shoes from the factory ~ at $90 per pair ~ knowing that in just a few short weeks; I will be calling and ordering another round of shoes. (o.k., I take back the “not nightmarish” statement above…..this is actually quite nightmarish).

Speaking of nightmarish, I have to admit that I do NOT think it is in any way normal  to take an absolutely perfect and beautiful handmade pair of silk Pointe shoes and purposefully MUTILATE them by slamming them in doors, slicing them with box cutters in preparation to wear.  (Apparently necessary, but in my opinion both heinous and nightmarish)

I am no longer fazed by finding dozens of hair pins in all cracks and crevices of the house, car and everywhere in between….or hair spray covered head rests in the car…..or dozens and dozens of “dead” Pointe shoes that my daughter insists on keeping, exploding from the shelves in her closet.

No one in our family is fazed any more by the fact that my daughter is unable to simply walk from point “A” to point “B”…..instead she must spin, leap and jete her way everywhere – seeming to have music in her head at all times.

We are also unfazed by the annual outcry (somewhere around early October) of “Oh I just can’t wait for Nutcracker season to start”.  After this our dinners often center around the annual “Nutcracker analysis”…..year after year, trying to figure out which parts will be given to which dancer.  Our family’s “normal” has shifted as even my hockey/basketball playing son is able to discuss the various parts of Nutcracker like a dancing pro.

In the last episode of Season One of Orange is the New Black we are left with Piper shifting, changing and ultimately accepting an even different “new normal”.  Not only different from where she began when she first landed in prison, but different from where she had evolved mid season.  This “normal” feels disturbing and troubling.  It feels unnerving to realize that given certain circumstances, we are all capable of becoming a very different person from what we thought we could become.  Life is like that.

And while my life as the parent of a ballerina is in NO way disturbing, troubling or unnerving ~ it is crazed ~ after all, Crazed is My New Normal”.

Which causes me to wonder how much different my current “New Normal” will become as I travel this journey with my daughter into Ballet?   Will I look back on these days and say, “I was so NORMAL back then….look at me ~ now THIS is CRAZED.”

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Photo: msmagazine.com

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