What would Hamlet think of Air-Conditioned and Not-so-Silent Nunneries?


I talk to myself—

A lot—or so I’m told–(even in my sleep).

My partner Sara has been kind enough to point this out to me, because she insists my babble bothers her.  She says it “poisons the environment.”   Apparently, I complain excessively about things that frustrate me and rarely talk out loud to myself about the positive—my most common complaint, according to Sara, “Good God, it’s hot in here!”

It seems I say this a lot–flinging open windows and tearing off layers of clothing in the process.

Am I over-heated?  Yes.  Am I cool-headed about it?  Not always.

However, I think I’ve generated a justification for my behavior.  It may be a bit of stretch, but check it out.  Tell me what you think.

You see, the summer between my senior year in college and my first year of graduate school, I spent 3 months studying Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon.  This program called the Shakespeare Institute (sponsored by the University of Birmingham) acted as an academic arm of the Royal Shakespeare Company.  Course work required we see all the plays the company performed that season, one of which was Hamlet.  We attended workshops with actors.  We spent evenings in pubs, consumed a few too many pints of ale.

outside a pub in Stratford-upon-Avon

Kathy (2nd from left) and friends outside a pub in Stratford-upon-Avon, Summer 1984

It was a tough assignment.  But some poor and aspiring  graduate student had to do it.

set of Richard III

Kathy on the set of “Richard III”–summer 1984, Royal Shakespeare Theatre

caskets from Merchant of Venice, backstage at Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Backstage of Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Caskets from “Merchant of Venice” (Summer 1984)

So, I’ve decided, given this history, to use Shakespeare (and Hamlet, more specifically) to justify and maybe even reform my habit of babbling out loud to myself. This means I’ll also address my horrific habit of periodically inserting profanity to punctuate my frustration.

For what is chatting out loud to one self but the epitome of soliloquy?   Perhaps, I could argue that in lamenting to myself, I’m merely performing a monologue, of sorts, narrating my own thoughts and feelings in dramatic settings.  And my life with Sara is nothing, if not good theater.

Would Sara buy this?  Would she agree, given this context, that my lament is more poetry than poison, more play than plague?

What if I ascended a stage, built one in the round, if need be, and pronounced in early modern English, “To sweat or not to sweat, that is the question?” Would that improve the plight of all involved, including our dogs dressed up indoors in winter hats and scarves, costumed against the chill that Sara merely imagines?

dogs in hats

Poor Ralph (left) and Lucy (right)

What if I rustled up some players, located suitable costumes, and captured the conscience of a king?  Would that slow me down enough?  Make me more aware that I am, in fact, babbling out loud to begin with?  Sara has always said I’m overly dramatic.

Would that keep me from contaminating Sara’s calm or pissing off partner and puppies in one fell swoop?

Would Sara say that I protest too much?  Would you?

Yeah, I know—none of this bodes well for my being balanced and of sound mind.

And to make matters even worse, I don’t have an entirely unblemished mental health history to begin with.  I mean, sanity hasn’t always been my strong suit.  I’ve admitted before I might be a mad brick shy of a lucid load.  I’d hate to out-Hamlet Hamlet himself.

Historic Hamlets

Historic Hamlets, from “Hamlet” program, RSC, Summer 1984

But before you get all call-the-white-coats holier-than-thou, before you get all Rosencrantz-and-Guildenstern on me, let me be perfectly clear.

What Piaget would call my egocentric speech is actually a form of mental health hygiene.   Rather than suggesting childlike regression, as Piaget would also say, it may evidence an emotional intelligence capable of purging negative thoughts and feelings and helping my brain function more effectively.

In fact, a recent study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology indicates that saying words out loud helps activate parts of the brain, allowing it to process information more efficiently.

So there—all you amateur diagnosticians and mental health know-it-alls with your poisoned panties in a worried wad—————–It ain’t no biggie.

But, and this is a big “BUT,” it bothers someone I love.  So I do need to address this not-so-unhealthy but nonetheless-bothersome babble of mine.

Perhaps, I should get my perimenopausal self to an air-conditioned nunnery–one that wouldn’t make me take a vow of silence.

Might you know of one?  

Do you talk to yourself?  If so, when and/or why?

Thanks to my friend Colleen, the “Chatter Master,” for inspiring this post!

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89 thoughts on “What would Hamlet think of Air-Conditioned and Not-so-Silent Nunneries?

  1. ” you …now-it-alls with your poisoned panties in a worried wad… it ain’t no biggie.” HA HAHA

    Oh what dreams and sleep patterns can tell us! Hubbs is always cold, I’m usually warm, esp. at night. Get yourself to a reputable doctor who understands hormone therapy. Trust me on this – makes all the difference in the world!
    MJ

    • Sara says I curse in my sleep. I suppose that says I’m angrier than I realize–or maybe it has to do with the fact that Sara hates profanity. Thus, instead of doing it when I’m awake, I do it in my sleep. Now, mind you, I’ve never been what you could actualy call “profane,” but Sara hates the word “damn.” Thus, I shut up during daylight hours and let it rip at night. Poor Sara!

  2. Oh, Kathy. My sweet Kathy. You have given me reason to think the thousands I’ve spent on an education to learn to mold young minds is suddenly not wasted. Most story tellers are auditory learners, they learn better through discussion, story telling and talking to themselves. You are a highly verbal individual, prone to chatter that doesn’t necessarily require anyone’s presence but your own. It’s all about how you process information. I live with a nine-year-old auditory learner who not only talks to himself, but sings to himself constantly. While I feel Sara’s pain in that the chatter is not always the most soothing, it is, however, a way for her to see into the workings of your own mind. (At least, I tell myself that every time Tony gets on my nerves humming the Darth Vader Death March, at which point I start humming out of a need to distract myself from wanting to choke my little ankle biter.)

    • Oh, Sista, I hadn’t thought about it being how I process information. That’s fascinating. I always thought I was more visual, but maybe not. This has me thinking. Maybe Tony needs to come hang with me for a while. LOL What can I say, sweetie, you will always take my side. You just love me. I can’t put much stock in your perspective. You’re too good a friend. LOL No, I do–I really, really do. Thanks, Sista! Love and hugs to you!

      • Most people are actually a mix of auditory, visual and kinesthetic learner. Usually folks like yourself who are interested in language (I remember you saying you really enjoyed linguistics) are predominantly auditory with visual thrown in. The visual comes into play when recognizing patterns–which makes you a good speller and artist, my checker board loving friend. Sara, because of her chosen profession, I suspect, is a highly kinesthetic learner with visual thrown in.

      • Fascinating. Sara believes she’s a visual learner given her architecture background. What would make her kinesthetic? I know so little about this sort of think. I taught but only ever in a univeristy, where a teaching degree is not required. Sounds like totally intriguing stuff.

    • OMG, this cracks me up, Lisa, cause I’m the one of the two of us who wears earplugs. Sara snores. I can’t sleep otherwise. Maybe she could wear them during the day, and I could take my turn at night. LOL However, that wouldn’t help her not hear me curse in my sleep. Like I said to Miranda–poor Sara!

  3. And once again I am NOT disappointed! You certainly know how to deliver Kathy! That was just brilliant!

    I believe that expressing things out loud IS very healthy. Better than keeping it in. And it’s not like you are having a discussion with someone that does not exist. At least not to others. Express! Express! Express! I love it!!!

    Though I do feel bad for Sara (and David). :)

    HUGS to both of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! From both of us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Oh, thank you, Colleen! You gave me the idea of addressing my blabber. It’s good to express, yes. But Sara apparently suffers, even though I RARELY address my frustration to her or about her. And, as you know, we have a big house. I must be loud, as she always seems to hear me, even though I work upstairs and she works down. Poor Sara. Poor David. I need to apologize more–like you do—or maybe wear a muzzle. LOL Thanks again for helping me think about this. Hugs and love to you and David, as well!

    • IN my comment to Colleen, I mention a muzzle. Maybe I could wear one of those at night. What do you think? It would have to be a cute one, though. I can’t be sleeping in an ugly muzzle, for god’s sake.

  4. Oh, my…I talk to myself all of the time! My husband often calls from the next room, “are you OK?” when of COURSE I’m Ok…I’m just talking to myself!

    • Yes, my Sara does the same thing. Part of our partner’s mistake is to inquire. Sara’s better off not knowing. LOL Thanks SO much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Great to hear from you!

  5. Wiping coffee from my screen so I am able to type this, thank you for my early morning chuckle which was very much needed. Now being a very good Methodist the mother of my heart (my third mother) had several words to replace Damn, we all learned them …. dang, dag, dart, drat, dog; these all worked quite well for us in her presence.

    As for talking to yourself, I think many of us do this especially as we enter that hot flash time of life. Here is the rule:

    It is okay to talk to yourself.
    It is okay to answer yourself even.
    Just don’t let the answer be, Huh?

    • Oops–sorry about your screen. Love the variations on profanity. I’ve used a few of those myself. And are you sure I shouldn’t answer “huh” to myself? This doesn’t bode well for me! Enough said. LOL Have a great day and get yourself some more coffee.

  6. You are a delight to read, even if Sara doesn’t find you quite so delightful to listen to when you are talking to yourself. I find I do that more when I’m processing something, like when I’m trying to do something the first time or when I’m puttering through a “to-do” list. It drove my ex nuts too, mostly because he was never sure whether or not he was supposed to be paying attention. I know I come by it honestly. My Dad used to accuse my Mom of holding committee meetings. I’m not sure there’s a real solution here, but the good humor about it certainly can’t hurt.

    • OMG–I LOVE your dad’s suggestion that your mom was holding committee meetings. That is HILARIOUS, Lisa! Gotta share that one with Sara!

      I think you’re right that we talk to ourselves more in some settings than others. I have to admit that writing this post made me more aware of how often I do it. And it is, I’ll admit, a bit extreme. God, I’m a blabber-mouth. So happy you enjoyed this post.

  7. It must have been fascinating spending time at the Royal Shakespeare Company! Hamlet was my set-work in my final year of high school. We got to watch the film version of the RSC performing it. Not quite the same thing as being there though.

  8. You are not alone, Kathy. I have always, always talked to myself. I think it is an outgrowth of my having 3 pretend friends as a little girl, and I am still talking to them today.

  9. Well, at the very least, the nunneries are air conditioned here .My daughter is a sleep talker. You can only understand her half the time. My husband, now, he’s a sleep freakouter.

    Here’s the scene. Last week in bed, I get up to go to the toilet. Something about my movement hits Scott in his dream state. (This happens quite often) and he sat bolt upright.

    Me: It’s just me. Wake up and go back to sleep.
    Him: There. Is. Someone.
    Me: Scott, would you wake up?
    Him: I’m awake!
    Me: OK, now go back to sleep
    Him: In the room. There’s someone in our room RIGHT NOW.
    Me: Um, yeah. Me? Clearly you’re not awake.
    Him: I am awake. He’s RIGHT THERE!

    Three observations. One, His voice was heavy with portent. Like Hamletworthy. So he had me spooked. Two, I didn’t have my glasses, without which I am legally unable to ride a bicycle or walk down the sidewalk. Three, he didn’t have his glasses either. He sees better than I do without them, but he’s quite nearsighted nonetheless.

    Part of me was logical, saying that if there were somebody in the room, he would have already jumped BOTH of us or died laughing at us. So I stalked forward to where Scot was pointing so adamantly and struck out blindly with my best karate chop. And toppled the swim bag, which was perched on a stack of boxes.

    Me: I got him. Now wake up and go back to sleep.
    Scott: [lying down] I am awake.

    Naturally, he had no memory of this the next morning because … HE WAS ASLEEP THE WHOLE DAMNED TIME.

    • This is priceless–and evidence all over again of how well you tell a story–even on the fly. I used to walk in my sleep a lot as a kid. God, I have some great stories. Actually, they’re storie that were told to me about what I had done in the night. I have no recollection of any of it. Scot’s episode, however, makes me think ghost–rather than intruder. He’s only ever done this exact thing once, right? Cause if the exact scenario played out again, I would take notice and wonder if something weren’t amiss in your house. Somehow I think we are wise when we are dreaming–or more keely aware, at least.

      • Oh – the weirdness is weird. When we FIRST started dating, we were sleeping at his apartment, which was college issue grad school UK Commonwealth Grad student housing, on his crappy sofa bed. And I was sound asleep, and I woke up with his HANDS AROUND MY THROAT.

        He was too asleep to choke me effectively, which was good because he sleeps like a STONE and it took me ages to wake him enough to make him let go.

        He actually remembered that one – a rare occurrence – he dreamed someone was choking HIM and he was trying to choke back.

        Typically, he sits up in a dead panic and I have to go “it’s OK, it’s OK, it’ OK” about a thousand times to wake him up and go back to sleep.

      • Wow, it’s been years since I’ve been over in those apartments. But, gosh, the attempts to choke you sound freaky. However, Sara has said I’ve been known to kick or hit in my sleep–I suppose, sort of flailing while I’m ranting in my dreams.

  10. I’m pretty sure you have nothing to apologize for, just as Sara can’t help her snoring. Partners have to stop being upset with one another about behavior or just move on.

    That frustration about another person is a form of trying to remake someone and that never works. In order to live with another person, we have to adjust — we don’t get to have the world in our own image.

    We here had to figure that out–and it was painful, but better for both. I can’t make him stop snoring, but I can remove myself from the situation. He gets frustrated with my own yakety-yak-ing and thinks he has to answer, but that’s HIS gig, not mine. I told him he’d know when I needed him–he heard me screaming in the garage after I fell.

    I had a counselor some years ago who gave me some great advice–I was having horrible anxiety following a car crash that was leading to panic and paralysis.

    He told me to TALK, to verbalize everything–starting with the most innocuous like “I think I’ll have some coffee” to “I can’t breathe, my heart is hammering, I”m so afraid but don’t know why.”

    *Best* advice in the world for me. It might not be for someone else, but it fits ME. Not the fella who loves me, just ME. Which then makes me happier, which then makes me a happier partner.

    Your artistic self is a good picture of the You–different ways to learn, different reactions to different stimuli–not just ONE way to be.

    Be easy on yourself, Kathy. You have the right *and responsibility to yourself* to take up the shape of your space, just like anyone else.

    It’s a dance to cooperate with another, but it can lead to great humor! <:-D It takes time–years!–to get that dance going just right.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I think there are some boundary issues at play here–rather, I know there are. A number of years ago I think I was better equipped to insist to Sara or anyone that they just deal. Now, I don’t know. It’s a dance. And I’ve never been a good dancer. LOL Thanks for the advice, my friend. I know you’re right. I just have to figure out how to make that work in a loving way. I could never say, deal with it or “just move on.”

      • yes, that middle ground where we work out the 2-person dance–yikes–it can be a scary conversation to start,but quite interesting once everyone leaves their (natural) defensiveness behind.

        of course I can’t think of an example right now (!!) but I KNOW that M and I have ended up laughing our a$$es off when we have discovered the assumptions we’ve made…. that weren’t even accurate!

        it’s also, for me, a dance of timing…. i bet you can imagine that my dance steps have been all confused right now–and it can happy any time.

        So be easy on YOU Kathy. These things are always a tango, for which it takes two! hee hee. Loving intention is 3/4 of the dance! just sayin’! You’ve got that part down pat!

      • Oh, thank you, Laurel. You are such a sweetie. I think I am pretty gentle with myself–sometimes I think I’m too kind to myself. It’s so hard to figure it all out. Still I love the dance metaphor–especially as it relates to the matter of timing. Well said.

      • (first, that previous comment was sposta say *Happen* any time! but as always, I appreciate Dr. Freud stopping by!)

        Good for you, Kathy. I tend to be so hard on myself…. I shall take your good example to heart.

        It IS hard to figure out. For the life of me, right now I’m not sure I could figure out specifics, but I have been able to figure out the being peaceful with one another. (Can you IMAGINE what M has put up with, been assaulted with for the last almost-9 months?!) Yikes.

      • Yes, yes, but goodness–what you have been through, as well, It fascinates me sometimes how much easier it is to see our own struggles in their impact on others. I suspect that makes it less painful. We humans are amazingly adaptive creatures.

      • Good point. As I have emerged from the fog, I have become aware of what life might have been like for him all those months…. Maybe thinking about him does indeed lessen the impact of what happened to me,how I’ve been so deeply affected. Who says we gotta know everything every damn minute?! yeeah!!!

  11. ‘I’ll also address my horrific habit of periodically inserting profanity to punctuate my frustration’ – noooooooooooooooo! Sailors who swear together, sail together. Sail through life, I [profanity] say! As for waking your partner, earplugs seem like the best remedy. Or jotting everything down for a most amusing read, or blackmail when necessary. I have the most wonderful conversations with myself in the waking hours – my husband can’t tell me if I have conversations when I sleep because he’s banished to the couch at the first snore. (I didn’t say earplugs work for everyone!)

    • I think earplugs are actually a great idea for Sara. However, I LOVE the idea of banishing the snorer to the couch even more. You see, i already wear earplugs to bed because of Sara’s snoring. Hmmmmm–and blackmail—now that a [profanity] brilliant idea. Just hope Sara doesn’t read your commment. LOL

  12. I once worked in a psychiatric facility where I had many daily conversations with people assigned the diagnostic label of schizophrenia. Some of them talked to themselves. Sometimes they used different voices. Sometimes the voices argued with each other. Quite honestly, I don’t believe there is as much difference between one of my old friends–many of them were genuinely nice people who were having odd and frightening experiences–and a so-called normal person as so-called normal people like to think.

    • Wow. I’ve never heard people using different voices. Maybe I was hospitalized with folks who weren’t quite that sick. However, yes, there’s less difference than most folks might imagine. I know my own experiences were terrifying enough. Great to hear from you. Thanks so much for your comment.

  13. Oh my goodness… you spent 3 months studying Shakespeare at Stratford Upon Avon? How absolutely fantastically awesome! Did you love it? It sounds like heaven to me.

    Ps – I would have never recognized you in those photos!

    • What can I say? I was nearly 30 years younger, didn’t wear glasses, and diddn’t have gray hair. Oh, how we change. However, I sure wish I still looked like that.

      Yes, it was amazing. I wish I could do it all over again now. I think I would appreciate it so much more–if that makes any sense. I was too young to use the experience as wisely as I might have.

  14. Have you always talked in your sleep, or is this a recent addition to The Wonderful World of Kathy? I’m not a sleep yakker, but since I started suffering more pronounced night sweats in recent years, I’ve been keeping a window open, or at least cracked, all year round and I have a fan running when I go to bed. You might want to try that approach. It’s possible that the fan will also drown out your yammering so Sara can get some quality z’s.

    • Actually the strangeness in the night was much worse when I was younger. As a kid, I did some pretty insane sleep-walking—but then again, I suppose, the “insane” part has endured!

      Interestingly, I don’t have night sweats. However, sometimes I like a fan pointed away from me just for the noise. It, along with earplugs, muffle Sara’s snoring a bit. Alas! Neither of us has it easy.

  15. OMG, you made me laugh. This is so funny, and I wholeheartedly agree with you. Turn your laments into drama. Build that stage and perform your soliloquy. And, once that stage is ready, would you mind if I came over and belted out a few Barbra Streisand tunes? I’ve always wanted to do that. ;)

    • Oh, Monica, I’m so happy you laughed. I’m never confident about my ability to do amusing. Maybe my sense of humor is more main-stream than I realize. I will build that stage and you can do Streisand. I won’t join you, however. I wouldn’t want to scare anyone. LOL

  16. Ah, the Mad Dane rises again!
    Living alone a few years now, I catch myself having conversations with everything—the cats, the TV, the computer, my artwork, any appliance that’s not behaving itself. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to curb my profanity while driving the truck. And there’s the running commentary on what I happen to be doing at the moment.
    I have to really change gears when I’m with people. Hard to put the F-word away once it’s danced around freely. Hard not to complain to the stupid TV characters when I’m at my friends’ house.

    While I *get* irritating habits that incite partner strangulation (my ex was a horder), a person should feel safe and free to be oneself at home. I limited my ex’s hording to an outbuilding, and he was happy with that. Maybe you and Sara could designate a Babble-Free Zone? Then, again, I *did* end up divorced. Never mind.

    • I think it’s great that you are learning to control it when in public–learning being the operative word, I suppose. My problem, to be honest, is that I’m so often totally not aware that I’m doing it. Yeah, I know–doesn’t bode well for my mental health. LOL Don’t worry, however, I fortunately feel very free to be myself–perhaps too free. Poor Sara! Sorry to hear about the hoarder in your past.

  17. Lucky you to spend 3 months studying Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon. I love the photos – when I looked at them I thought why are you telling us which one is Kathy…?
    Kathy eh? Not Kathryn.

    I’ve never heard of anyone swearing in their sleep. I wonder what would happen to your night times if you spent a few days swearing as much as you liked – shouting out the cuss words if you felt like it? Just a thought…

    Goodness Kathy, have you written anything about your identical twin? You quietly shared it in a comment, but I feel that’s a whole story waiting and wanting to be expressed. I wonder whether your cussing has anything to do with your missing half?

    • Thanks, Rosie. I’ve written a bit about my twin–a couple of posts, at least. However, I’m sure there will be more. Don’t have any idea why I swear in my sleep. Weird, isn’t it?

      Yeah, the months studying Shakespeare were awesome. How funny–about my name. Yes, most folks have always called me “Kathy.” If you notice when I comment on blogs, I always sign my name as Kathy. It’s just my formal, legal name that’s Kathryn. That’s not to say no one calls me Kathryn. Just not many. Thanks for asking.

  18. I talk to myself a little bit… mostly when I’m working … and confused. Then I say things like, “What the heck?” and “That doesn’t make sense!” I don’t know if it does me any good. Might just be a bit of stress relief!

    Maybe, for Sara’s sake, you could work on just whispering to yourself?

  19. OMG! Wherefore out thou? I think you may have fallen off the balcony LoL ! Making excuses to mumble to yourself and or out loud, to create a Shakespean play out of your talking to yourself out loud is so creative and humorous !
    Oh geeze I just got distracted by Stacie comment just above that says “Especially when I’m talking to my vagina.” Is that like thinking with your dick for men?

    Anyways maybe I should have thought out loud before making statements here.

  20. Sleeping together is always a challenge for two between twixt there lies an uneasy balance .. of temperature or temperament. That is called.. marriage.
    So — yeah! You’re naked & sweating and he/she is in full sweat gear and freezing … kiss good night and agree to disagree. You guys are so crazy in love, I know you’ll figure it out … but I’m all about open windows. Cold is good for you and at the very least, results in desperate hugging!

    • You made me, too, laugh, JK. I could just hear you. Happy to have made you laugh! Suddenly it all came back to me what a great one you have! Hope you got that martini last night and your back is feeling better!

    • Gosh, I wish Sara would talk in her sleep sometimes–talk instead of snore. However, she probably wishes I’d snore a bit. She says it’s often hard to make out exactly what I’m saying or to remember it in the morning. Maybe I should set up a voice-activated recorder. LOL Great to hear from you today!

      • my partner says the same about me – that I talk in my sleep but I never say anything memorable.

        I enjoy reading about your life it’s a little like walking the dog in the inner city at dusk – everyone is home and no one closes the blinds. I like to peak.

        so thank you

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