On talking to yourself

Does it surprise you to learn that I talk to myself about 60% of the time? Out loud? I have mastered the barely-a-whisper level of speaking where it basically just sounds like “w-s-w-s-w-s-w-s” to whoever is within earshot. My hope is that no one is within earshot, but sometimes the words slip out in public. Sometimes louder than that barely-a-whisper level, too.

Like when I was shopping by myself the other day, saw a shirt I liked, looked at the price tag, gave a hearty, “Nope!” and laughed to myself.

Then I tried to look serious and absorbed in the clothes because I realized that all of that had been audible to the other people in the store. Oh, dear.

It’s not a new thing. I have entire conversations with myself. Well, not really with myself. I’m having conversations with people – imagined conversations where I hear their responses in my mind and carry on my side of the conversation. I’m not under the delusion that they’re present, mind you. Occasionally these turn into monologues. Often, rants.

Over the course of the nearly five years that my sister and her (now) husband were dating, I whispered my Maid of Honor speech to my imagined audience so many times that I got out all the stupid jokes and cheesy memories and could really edit down to the good stuff. I whispered it while I washed my hair, while I did the dishes, while I drove around.

Do I sound crazy to you? I hope not. I didn’t take a poll before I wrote this to see if this was abnormal behavior. It probably is. Like how I told someone over lunch today that after I deposit checks I rip them up into at least twenty different pieces and throw them away among 2-3 trash receptacles in my house. Then I realized it sounded slightly nutty and paranoid.

Oh well.

When I’m not talking to myself or my imagined companions (I’d like to take a moment and distinguish between imaginary and imagined… the people are real. They just aren’t present) there’s still an internal monologue. I’m told that males don’t have this, that there’s a dark closet of no monologue that you can go to.

I would like directions to this magical place.

I can’t really whisper to myself at work. And just to be sure you understand, it’s not like that’s a real big disappointment to me. I don’t plan to rehearse conversations to myself. It just happens sometimes when I’m alone and need to process. I don’t process as well inside my head. It’s messy in there, like a filing cabinet tipped over into a vat of Jell-O.

Anyway, at work, in the quiet of my cubicle where I am usually working on solitary projects but not in solitude, the self-talk keeps going. I think it’s human to need affirmation, but I don’t give it to myself well. And since the tasks I’m doing require more time than skill or expertise or prowess or anything like that, there’s no one standing over my shoulder patting me and admiring my use of the mouse or how efficiently I utilize the shortcuts on my keyboard.

No one tells me that my posture is superb (probably because it usually isn’t) or that I filed away the magazines really well.

Because they don’t need to. But there’s a vacuum in my head. No feedback! it cries. We must be doing something wrong! We must be very, very bad! Does that sound Gollum-esque? It’s supposed to.

You probably have this same vacuum sometimes. I’m okay with it in the objective sense because the phrase “man’s empty praise” rings true to me much of the time. I’m from that generation that got awarded just for participation, and mere effort was lauded even more greatly. But the vacuum is still there. And I’m trying to learn to replace the Gollum-voice with positive self-talk that doesn’t overinflate.

There’s a balance. It doesn’t have to make me the queen of everything. But maybe it needs to say that I’m competent.

I hope you know that you’re competent. Maybe not at my job. But at something. I hope you know that you’re valuable. Maybe not in net worth, but intrinsically. I hope I know that, too.

I also hope you talk to yourself. I can’t be the only one.

The profound impact of caffeine

There is such a stark difference in my day after the coffee starts to work. If I had a list of things I want my spouse to do, the number one thing would be to make the coffee in the morning before I was awake so that I can be coherent and pleasant to him. Really, it’s all about him – he deserves a pleasant spouse.

Prior to the caffeine, I can mutter “Good morning” in my most falsely cheerful voice to my dad as he innocently butters an English muffin and tries not to poke the bear. (It doesn’t take much)

Fast forward about an hour, and I’m on the bus (this actually happened today), reading something mildly funny on Facebook and thinking to myself (this actually happened, no lie) LOLSIES. I should comment that. LOLSIES and stifling a giggle.

What happened? Coffee happened, my friends. I also read the holy word of God, but that does not make me giggly. It brings great fulfillment and wisdom and a deeper faith, but it does not provoke giggle attacks.

It got worse when I got to work and had an email waiting for me from a particularly witty co-worker, asking the department to use discretion in the boxes they saved and stacked in the mail room. Like, not keeping ones that could fit a baby hippo or the ones that have been ravaged by other mail stickers. There is a place for such boxes, she says, and it’s not in a stack in the mail room – a stack that becomes increasingly precarious and annoying as more boxes the size of baby hippos are piled in there. It is in the recycling pile. There is someone who will take care of them!

I couldn’t stifle the laugh then. It was too funny, and I was too caffeinated. Thankfully, no one cared. It wasn’t a snort-laugh, and it didn’t echo. I shared my appreciation of the baby hippo comment with the co-worker and went on with my day.

After my afternoon pick-me-up of (you guessed it) coffee, I was able to inform the superior whose project I was working on that no, I wasn’t having fun with it exactly since it wasn’t actually generating the hoped-for results but I was taking enormous enjoyment in the small victories. This made him laugh, and the circle was complete.

If that’s not at least a partial proof that coffee makes the world a better place, then let me know. I have more.

Forgetting and remembering.

I finished my bus book yesterday and forgot to put another one in my bag for today. This means I have about 60 minutes of travel time where I will be tempted to just play Word Chums instead of doing something a little more substantial.

The regret is real because I have so many books left to read this summer and so little time. That’s always the story though.

While we’re talking about things I’ve forgotten lately, let’s talk about how I forgot that July is the quickest month of summer. I also forgot that I haven’t graduated yet (well, not really, but I’ve gotten really settled into my life in Minnesota, working full-time and all that), so I have to go back to school in about four weeks.

You know how Facebook does that thing everyday where they’re like remember what you were doing on this day the past 6 years you’ve been on Facebook? Oh look! Here are some embarrassing statuses from your freshman year of high school that no one liked. Happy Tuesday!

Usually Facebook brings back my blog posts for me, which I usually don’t read.

Because I usually have a book. *sigh*

But today I read them. They were about communion and Batman (two separate posts, but really, would you be surprised if they were combined?). And I was so glad I’d kept those records. I typically count myself among the people who have great memories because I have a trivia brain, but I don’t remember some of the most significant things, like how obedience is holy and worth it.

So I didn’t read anything new today. I didn’t add to my page count for the summer, but I did get to revisit some old lessons. I’m thankful for the reminders.


I usually love rainstorms. I love them because they have a mysterious power to make me sleep well and deeply.

Like how in the first few minutes of today, while the tornado sirens went off and the rain and wind battered on the entire west metro area, I was deep into my REM cycles and not coming up for anything.

Except for my mom gently tapping me and saying, “Honey, the sirens are going off. We need to go downstairs.” In the back of my mind, I was thankful that she was concerned for my welfare.

I unplugged my phone and took it with me as I walked the familiar path downstairs with my eyes mostly closed. Midway down the stairs I realized I’d brought my stuffed bunny with me. He’d just stayed nestled in my elbow, where he had been before. Yep, I’m an adult.

The bathroom is the only room downstairs that doesn’t have windows, since we don’t actually have a basement. But it was occupied when we got down there, so we tired women just sat down behind the couch, hoping in the event of breaking glass that would be enough to protect us.

I am not often irrationally angry, but I can be very much so when awoken in the middle of the night or when awake and without coffee. I found myself huffing as I lay on the floor listening to the news lady say over and over again where the storm was, for all the people who were just tuning in. Yes, we know. Counting down until the tornado warning is past. 5 minutes. Oh, it’s over but I have to stay here? NO. Okay. But as soon as I hear the wind die down a little bit, I’m going back to bed.

And of course, since the wind was whipping at many many miles per hour, the signal kept going out, so the tv flashed its bright light into the room over and over again. I tried to stay in my sleepy state, glad to have brought a soft thing to lay my head on, because I wasn’t about to get up and find another pillow.

We lay there for 45 minutes until the most imminent danger was gone, and I decided it was worth it to be in my bed. I’m a little worried that I would not be concerned about intruders in my home if it meant I had to get out of bed. Or fire. Hopefully adrenaline would come to the rescue in those cases.

The good news is that we’re all okay, except the trees on our street took a little beating. But they’re old and hearty, and they’ll recover.

Knees and Buzzfeed

Today I feel the need to apologize for my knees and to assure people that my behind is as far back in this bus seat as it can go.

It’s the hazard of sitting in the accordion folded section of the bus where you face inward and anyone in the second half of the vehicle must pass you in order to get to their seat.

Naturally, they assume your femurs must be normal length and that they are, therefore, safe to continue on their merry way without caution.

Not so, my friend. There have been many a knee bump today.

I’m tall-ish. This is my life. I accept it and likely won’t be apologizing for it.

Tall is one word I’ve used to describe myself, and definitely one others have used to kindly let me know that I have height (which I was obviously unaware of before). Blonde has at times also been a descriptor.

I was thinking about the ways we introduce ourselves to people yesterday. Like, in a sense I just introduced myself to those bus people by having my knees in their way. Hello, I have no control over the length of my legs and probably should have picked another seat.

I usually tell people I’m a student, writer, intern, daughter, sister, sales associate, not the manager but I can get one for you.

I use the labels I’ve been given, the titles I’ve received.

I’m an INFJ. I’m a 6. Buzz feed says my inner Disney Princess is Belle. I agree.

Like I have to beat around the bush because I’m not sure where the bush is and if I should be beating it. Who am I? Well, this is what I’ve been told from reliable sources.

At this stage in the game, I can only tell you what I’ve been told and have confirmed with experience. That’s this stage of life. And maybe just the way it goes, being human, that we must rely on a combination of outside and inside sources to find out who we are.

Then where there’s conflict between the two, we have a minor or major life crisis and eventually come out with a greater understanding of ourselves.

This probably doesn’t mean I need to take more Buzzfeed quizzes to spark the discussion within myself, but it probably does mean I need to be aware of which narratives and labels I’m accepting.

At least I know I can keep “tall.”

Choosing choosiness but only sometimes.

I have a new favorite pen. I just came across it by chance by searching in the office supply cupboard for a pen and paper. I realized that I had neither of them at my desk… and pens are kind of essential.

Oh my. I love this pen. I’ve never been a pen snob. I mean, not really. There are some pens that I really would rather not use – namely, every single one at Loft because they don’t work well on receipt paper. And that’s almost always what I’m writing on.

I had a Sharpie pen phase, which is now over because it’s a little too much like a marker.

But now. Ah. I have found it. Smooth ink, makes me feel like I’m writing with a quill pen (for some unknown reason I have yet to determine).

It’s the uni-ball onyx fine tip eco pen. I know. Nothing special. It’s a cheap pen. You can get a pack of 12 on Amazon for like $6. But seriously, it makes me wish my job included less typing and more calligraphy.

It has yet to leave me hanging in the middle of a letter. It’s a good weight, balanced well for comfortable writing. It doesn’t have the comfort gel grip, but I don’t like those anyways.

There’s some merit to just using whatever you’ve got to write with. I’m not about to start turning down perfectly good pens (as long as they can write… some pens don’t even do this). I’ve actually been thinking a lot lately about what in my life I want to be choosy about and what I should be less uptight about.

Examples: I have curly hair. I am protective of said curly hair. I buy special products for said hair to keep it happy. It’s not cheap, but it helps that I only wash it once or twice a week. These things I buy new, and I read the labels to make sure they are exactly what I want. I am less choosy about… well. Now that’s hard to say.

Is there anything I’m not choosy about?

I’m choosy about food (no meat! should be nutrient rich except when I feel like it shouldn’t be). I’m choosy about clothes (should be classy, versatile, and made with dignity), about shoes (must be supportive but not look like grandma-shoes… even though I love grandmas and their shoes), about my deodorant (gotta use the stuff that doesn’t give you cancer), about my coffee (weak coffee only belongs in the trash… with Folgers), about my bedtime (never stay up past midnight if you can possibly help it), about who talks to me in the morning before I’ve had coffee (no one, please).

It would probably be good for me to think through which of these are actually important. I have a great capacity to consider things important that may not actually be important. This is great when we’re talking about people. Everyone is valuable! Yay! However, it’s not great when we’re talking about things and how they have to be just so.

So the discovery of loving these pens is probably just something to tell my family for when they need to stuff my stocking at Christmastime and something to hold loosely the rest of the year. I can write with any pen – or pencil. Maybe I’ll even branch out to grandma shoes or actually using the shampoo and conditioner hotels provide.


Fog and Feuerbach

A deep fog has settled over the Twin Cities metro area, and it smells like smoke. I was confused when I came out of my office to find that it was foggy all over the city, but after talking to my sister, we’ve reasoned it must be from the forest fires in Canada. Which means those must be pretty powerful to have drifted halfway down Minnesota.

A deep fog settled over my brain today, too. It’s that Monday brain thing multiplied because it was a holiday weekend.

Amid all the fog, on the way home from work I saw a guy doing pull-ups on the footbridge over 94, with his bicycle parked next to him. I guess some people go to the gym and some do their pull-ups over a busy highway during rush hour.

This summer, I’ve been doing reading for school in addition to some pleasure reading. I’m studying Marilynne Robinson in the fall, so I’ve started reading her work in preparation as well as some of the philosophy she interacts with. I finished Gilead a couple weeks ago, so I went to the library and picked up a few of the shorter works by the people mentioned.

Gilead is about a small-town Iowa pastor who knows he will die soon and is writing a long letter to his young son. It had absolutely no chapter breaks but just kept going in one stream of consciousness. In a way, it was neat because that’s how real-life thought processes go. They don’t have divisions or headings. So if you change your mind, it’s just another paragraph in your stream of consciousness. In some ways, I wanted chapter breaks to monitor my progress, but overall it was an interesting way to think about a novel.

Anyway, I picked up Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity at the library because it seemed like it was a good place to start understanding the novel a bit better. Feuerbach gets name-dropped a bunch. At that point, I didn’t really know anything about Feuerbach, but a cursory Wikipedia search told me that the book I picked up was a critique of Christianity….


Right. Critique. So this might not be an affirmation of my beliefs? Or at least it might not be an affirmation of Christianity as a religion, generally.

It’s strange to approach a book with the knowledge that the author is writing with the intent of getting you to think about whether what you believe is actually true – and maybe even to convince you that you’ve been deluded all along.

A deep fog is set in my mind as I read, partly because reading philosophy is always slow going for me and partly because I’m trying to hold what I believe down on the ground with me. Two weather systems: my faith and Feuerbach’s critique of it are colliding and making an interesting dialogue.

So it’s overall just pretty foggy today.

Jean jackets and commuters.

Yesterday while we commuters were riding the express bus back to Maple Grove, the driver slammed on the brakes suddenly. Instantly, the comatose businesspeople of America popped their heads up from where they had been resting or playing Candy Crush to see what was going on.

It was like watching a bunch of moles stick their heads up from the ground. Hmm? What’s was that? Pop. Pop. Pop. Then they realized it was just ordinary rush hour traffic and went back to their post-work slump.

Today’s much the same minus the brakes. Everyone has their head down, most are not sitting next to anyone. If you ever want to meet a group of people who are fabulous at minding their own business, this would be it. Bus 781.

It was unofficial light wash jean jacket day at my office. Three of us sported almost identical jackets. And now there’s a man on my bus with long gray hair and red wired rimmed sunglasses that seems to have gotten the memo as well.

That’s slightly less exciting, but still, we obviously have something in common.

It’s a holiday weekend, so some people have already taken off for the cabin. Due to the lower stream of commuters, I parked on the first floor of the parking ramp today. Totally unprecedented. On the best days I park in one of the really hard to park in corner spots on the second ramp. Not that it really makes much difference since I still have to walk about the same distance to get to the bus. Still, it seemed like something to note, a change of pace.

People ask me how my job’s going a lot, which is nice. I tell them it’s good, that I like it, that I’m learning a lot. Sometimes they seem to have been expecting to hear more. And then I tell them it’s a lot of data entry. And they just nod and smile. I mean, I’m excited about the things that have been happening, but… a lot of it is these types of things.

Like, I ride the bus. And precious little happens on the bus, but the other day, the driver pulled away two minutes early and stopped for those of us who hadn’t gotten on. “I’m just so eager to get you all to work!” We laughed.

And like, I got my lunch at Whole Foods today, which is exciting, instead of bringing it from home. And I’ve been reading books at work since someone has to write the discussion questions.

It doesn’t make for a sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat story, but it’s my life. I mean, matching jean jackets are pretty exciting.