Friday, January 9, 2009

Thoughts and perceptions and stinkin' thinkin'

I met Olivera in front of the dog pound in San Francisco around 1980. He had just adopted a dalmatian. He was Brazilian and he had a motorcycle, a Yamaha. On our first date we rode across the Golden Gate Bridge on his bike late on a Sunday night. It was misty and there was no traffic, just us speeding across the bridge together. Lights flickered in the distance in the fog. When we approached Sausalito, it twinkled like a white lit Christmas tree that was a definite fire hazard because of too many lights plugged into one socket. It was very romantic...but as it turned out, not for me and Olivera.

I found out that Olivera was not a very interesting person and soon got bored and got a little mean and started to work in words such as "independent" and "Connecticut" into the conversation because I knew he couldn't pronounce them. I gave up on Olivera but he didn't give up on me. He called for another date but I said I was busy and to call me in a year. A year would go by and he'd call to see what was going on in my life. Then he'd ask for a date and I would say no, call me in a year. This went on for years. The last time he called, he said one thing he could count on was that things were always the same when it came to me. And that time, I forget if he even asked for a date.

I don't think he meant what he said as a compliment (ha ha ha) but it was definitely true. If anyone wrote my biography, I'm sure they would be bewildered by how little happened with so much time. I'm not sure what to think of that, to tell you the truth. When you come from a family of dramatic characters, having a long period of calm is something soooo nice that it's hard to give up. Doesn't make for interesting conversation though.

But that's my own perception of myself. And I could be wrong.

Everyone has a voice in their head that causes some problems when it starts talking and won't shut up. That nagging critical voice that just keeps going once it starts. When Stephanie Pearl-McPhee talked about the creative process at her book signing last October, she talked about how she had  a really difficult time with the voice in her head while she was writing. It was relentless in making fun of her for even thinking of writing, let alone something about knitting. She finally came to terms with the voice and since she is a knitter, especially a knitter of socks, she told it to "put a sock in it." But she also said that if anyone really, really knew her deep inside, they would just hate her. And there she was in an auditorium full of fans still at full attention waiting to get their books signed. So who is right?
And then there are people who have no little voices in their head and you really wish you could send over the one that belongs to you. I read a book years ago called "Shooting the Boh." It was a true-life adventure of a woman on a rafting trip that attempted to go down an uncharted river in Borneo. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. It was fascinating. But the more I read, the more I realized that I really didn't like the person telling the story. And as I read further, realized the people that she was writing about and making sniggering comments about, had a hard time dealing with her too. It really made me laugh to read her account because even while recording the things that happened, spending time rewriting the things that happened, she never was aware of what was really happening. But then, I guess both perceptions could be right, I'd lean more to what other people thought of her however. Ha ha ha. Interesting book, insufferable person.

I can't post something without a picture so I found this linoleum block print my friend Janet printed on January 17, 1973 when she was sixteen. She's the one who saw the Russian "War and Peace" with me. She was also the one who kicked Gina Lollobrigida in the shin but that story will have to wait for later. This print is a self portrait of Janet (but she'd deny that). Janet, Pam and I were all artistic girls when we were in high school but Janet always felt like she could never be as "good" as Pam and me. I just had that feeling. Maybe she told me. I don't think she continued with an art career but she was good. Really good. I think she had a grown up voice in her head before she became a grown up. That kind of sucks. I'm not sure what I'm saying here...just that a little voice is probably a good thing but when it stops you from doing what you want to do, follow the advice my friend Lucy told me....tell that voice to "shut up and sit down!"

It works.


Mental P Mama said...

"Shut up and sit down." We all need to say that to the little voice more. Great advice;)

Laura J. Wellner (author pseudonym Laura J. W. Ryan) said...

Yup, I know that kibitzing voice all too well, that little rat tries to disguise herself as my mother, that's so annoying. I thumb wrestle with that voice when it gets bad, especially on days when there's rejection letters in the mailbox...grrrrr...

When it says, "You suck." I just say, "Yeah, I know that's just your opinion, and I know you are nobody, so I'm going to keep trying because I gotta do it, and you and your bottomless cache of insults can't stop me, so...shut up, you."

Love your blog, love your pictures, and I love the raccoon!

shara said...

Sometimes that lil' voice is for us and helps us out. Sometimes that little voice is so mean and holds us back.

For me, it is noticing that lil' voice (metacognition) and either being grateful, or telling it to "put a sock in it! That is such a great image!!!

Gina Martin said...

will you come over & tell my little voice to shut up??? it never listens to me....

Country Girl said...

I tell my little voice right out loud to shut up. It always listens. It doesn't wanna mess with me.

Love the image your friend drew.

Maria said...

You guys all left some really interesting comments.

Laura, I confess, my little voice is "disguised" with my mother's voice too. Thank you for the nice compliment on my blog. I looked up your blogger profile and you say you work in a museum? Do tell.

GiNAAAA-you goofball. Thank you for the comment you made last night (when I saw you in front of Cosentino's) about your mom laughing hysterically at Stella in the Hannibal Lecter mask (even though you did allow that your mom was on painkillers)? Made my week because as you know, this week has been the pits.

Shara, "metacognition." Never heard of that before. I learned something new. Cool.:-)

Kate-I"m not surprised that you can deal with that voice so directly. :-)

And Mental, thank you for leaving your encouraging comments in the "middle of the night" so that when I wake up and see my post first thing in the morning, I don't feel compelled to delete it.