Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Joy of Talking to Yourself

Do yo
u ever talk to yourself? Out loud? I've been doing it more and more. I don't know if I should be embarrassed or not. But since I'm alone during the day now, with kids out of town or at school, and faced with this project to do, I've taken up the luxury of listening to my own voice.

Only when I have something to say, of course. If I'm in a rush and I'm reaching for the cinnamon in the food cupboard and tip over the hot sauce, or I'm late to the
gym and putting up my hair and the rubber band breaks, or I'm taking dishes out of the dishwasher and one of the cups flipped over during the wash and I grab it unknowingly and the water goes splashing out all over get it, those "if anything can go wrong it will go wrong" moments--then I say out loud to myself, "Of COURSE! That HAD to happen! That's the RULE!" Sometimes I add, "God, you must be giggling!" because I do believe He has a sense of humor.

How about today, expecting a gaggle of women plus a rabbi in my home in five minutes, and I was buck naked coming out of the shower after the gym, rushing to grab my undies and shimmy into my skirt and sweater when--of COURSE! The telephone rings! I have thirty seconds to look pulled-together and graciously welcome my guests, and yet, and YET, I pick up the phone and the friend on the other end starts off with, "I know you're busy right now, but..." She had no IDEA how I was rushing! There's nothing like a rabbi ringing your doorbell with you buck
naked to convince you that God has a sense of humor!

Ahh, but He wasn't quite that mischievous. I managed to get decent before my august teacher arrived. So I told myself aloud, into the mirror, "I may not look GREAT, but at least I'm dressed!" And of course I agreed. Wholeheartedly.

And of course I talk to myself when I'm driving. "Hurry up! Move your little tush!" I say to the two-miles-per-hour car in my path. And at the famous four-way stop sign on the two-lane "main drag" of our friendly little community, I talk to all three of my sign-sharers. "You go!" I say aloud, aligning and flicking my four fingers in a go-ahead gesture above my steering wheel. I look at the smiling lady in her SUV to my left, and, by golly, I see her lips move and her hand mimics mine, "No, YOU go!" Well, if she's THAT nice, I must insist! And so we sit there at the stop sign waving, "conversing" and reading lips. I think our residents enjoy that intersection because there, talking to oneself is possibly sane.

Sometimes when I'm shopping in the supermarket, I find myself commenting on the products. "No, I won't pay two dollars, when it was 10 for $10 last week!" I announce, looking at my favorite house-brand salad dressing. Or, in the veggies, squeezing an avocado ever-so-gently--"Eeew! This one's toooo ripe!" My fellow shoppers look up to see who I'm talking to--deep embarrassment until I manage to mutter "Bluetooth." Whew.

When I'm at home alone, however, I can safely wax eloquent. When reading the New York Times (Style Section or front page), I hear a familiar voice commenting on the articles. "Hilary sure looks bad in THAT photo," I declare, nodding in
approval. Nobody wants her to look TOO good. And bad reporting certainly deserves notice: "There it is AGAIN! That stupid idea that Israel was founded as a result of the Holocaust! They should KNOW better!" Rightly chastised, I can now continue reading Part I.

Sometimes I can be quite constructive. After a too-leisurely lunch break, I snip, "Back to work!" But then my conniving side kicks in and answers, "Well, I better put these dishes in the dishwasher and clean up the kitchen first."

And of course, I'm my own best critic. "Look what you did!" I exclaim when I mend the back of the sock to the hole I was darning on the front. Or, when procrastinating by cleaning up my terminally-messy daughter's room, I admonish, "Why are you spending your time DOING this? You KNOW she's just going to keep throwing her clothes on the floor!" A beat. Then a response, "Duh. You know you don't want to go back to work!" I'm such an astute conversationalist.

It's just so much fun sharing life with someone who knows me so well. If you were here, you'd hear me telling myself to finish this blog RIGHT NOW because I've done pitifully little writing on my book today.

I bet you never talk to yourself, right? If you do, leave me a comment and tell me what you say (or if you think I'm crazy). In the meantime, I'll keep right on making observations about the world to the only person I know who won't talk back.


  1. So sorry I called at that inopportune time but of course it had to be me calling and what I didn't tell you when we later met was that ... surprise! I was also not "buck" but DOE-nekkid, since my massage therapist was just in the next room waiting for me to hop on her table. Gee, we could be twins. Okay, enough of THAT visual, but since you brought it up ...

    Let's segue to the audio issue, i.e., talking to oneself, which we in fact did discuss today. As I pointed out to you, when you talk to yourself, you know that 1)you're right, 2)no one will contradict you, 3)you're just verbalizing what's in your head anyway so you might as well get it out of your head to make room for more important input, 4)it's a "venting" (and therefore coping) mechanism that works beautifully (for me anyway), and 5)it serves as a tangible confirmation/
    affirmation of the condition which preceded it, thereby giving you a very real signal, and one might say permission, to move on.

    I never feel weird or bad or awkward talking to myself because it helps me "deal", I always listen to those externally-voiced words of internal wisdom/insight/ turmoil/indecision/aggravation/(nameyour feeling)... it doesn't harm anyone since I'm just commenting on my own perspective
    ... and it often gives me permission to laugh at myself when I hear what I've just said.

    In that way, I think it even HELPS to put things into the proper perspective, lends levity to an otherwise serious issue, etc. Of course, sometimes it also elicits a question from my poor husband who feels compelled to ask "Did you say something to me?", which proves the effort he makes to be a good listener to his spouse. Hey, does this fall into the same category as talking back at the TV, which he doesn't do and hates my doing so? Oh, let's all lighten up: life is just a chair of bowlies anyway - hee hee ...

  2. I don't do it - my inner voice is much grumpier than yours, and no help at ALL, arrrgh - but I have heard YOU, say, on erev shabbos, or "erev" shabbos-lunch, and you are ADORABLE! Big wet kisses!

  3. Of COURSE I talk to myself...shocker, right? The only effective way for me to study for tests is to repeat the information out loud to myself (or teach it to someone else). When I scrutinize myself in the mirror, I always have something to say (some days, "Why are you so ugly? Those purple circles under your eyes are juuuuust great" and others, "Ok, you look good. Yup.") And just in general, I sometimes tell myself stories and narrate my life. After all, it's the most interesting story I know. :) And if I'm not talking to myself, you can bet I'm probably singing to myself! Must be in my genes...

  4. sj, yes, it must be in your genes...and I forgot to discuss singing in my post! Yes, singing is essential. And the mirror, indeed! Who's the fairest of them all? Could be YOU.

  5. I LOVED that pic of us when we were tiny !! And the pic of you and Jerry is so ADORABLE !!
    I talk to myself a lot. And pray a lot too. I've gotten more religious as I've aged ! Sometimes I'll walk in a room and stop and think of why I'm in there ! Yikes !!
    What RX is good for the brain ? Chocolate doesn't seem to help.
    Love your blog ! Love, sis