My Third Eye: One Woman's Vision of the Great Mystery

Via the Paths of Creativity, Cancer, Folly & a Wild LOVE OF LIFE

Jane Underwood

Jane Underwood
San Francisco, California, USA
October 08
The Writing Salon
I'm a mother, writer, photographer (amateur), and owner of The Writing Salon, a school of creative writing for adults, in San Francisco. I'm also a woman living with breast cancer (since Aug. 2005), working to heal myself (and to understand just what that means, REALLY). Since I'm beginning this blog six years after my breast cancer journey began, the first post is a flashback to that fateful day. The rest of this blog will be, I suspect, a kaleidoscopic mix of past and present, as I refer to the first six years of living with breast cancer... but also focus on the present. And the present contains a whole lot more than just breast cancer. So be forewarned: I will frequently digress.


SEPTEMBER 22, 2011 12:23PM

Urban Me: I Am Not Like that Woman in the Photo, But. . .

Rate: 10 Flag
Urban Tough, Urban Bold, Urban Style

I am not like her, a smartly done up urban woman walking briskly down the street, a swirling array of long scarves bunched fashionably around my neck, coffee-to-go in hand, a bold red wall branded with black graffitti as my backdrop. This woman, in this particular environment of gritty red and black, could be a glossy magazine advertisement for . . . something I am not.

No, I am not like her, but I like her --  this smart, brisk urban woman. She has stamped herself onto the world, she is confident and sure-footed.

Having lived in San Francisco for the last thirty-two years, you would think I might have acquired a more prominent urban style, myself. And I have, but it's more inner than outer.  I have learned, for example, to assimilate sounds in a different way. I am more accepting of cacophony, more appreciative. I can embrace the co-existence of jack hammer with the whisper of a breeze through stalwart urban trees.

The silence of a small town at night amazes me now. The last time I visited friends in Sonoma, I walked down the sidewalk past dark-windowed houses, and the quiet felt as vast as the wide, filled-only-with-stars-and-moon-sky. Oh, and there was also the blackness. Total, immense blackness, or so it seemed to me from my urbananite's point of view.

As far as people and social activities go, I have remained mostly a loner, often a hermit. I have a handful of dear friends, many of whom scamper from restaurants to theaters to museums to literary readings as I sit alone on my comfie couch, feeling fulfilled and relieved by the fact that I know so few of my neighbors' names. But at the same time, there is a melting pot of people/cultures/ethnicities and differences that lives inside me now, and it is always simmering, and I am always stirring it -- with fascination and gratitude.

18th & Dolores

My bold urban style does not manifest in the realm of fashion or social whirlwinds, but I have changed in other ways. For instance, I now know how to hear and love my cat's tiny whistling snore, even when beset by the roar of traffic at dawn.

Cat on the Quilt

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
A country girl in an urban setting. That was me too. But I added in wilderness woman and that is a whole other genre. San Francisco isn't as harsh as some other cities. All that water mellows people out a little. But so many people!!!
Nice post.

I, however, live in the country and am a bit annoyed when the occasional cars go by on the road, disturbing the otherwise deep silence. And at night, it's darker than in Sonoma I bet, with the milky way visible except at full moon.
I don't get this blog but I do love your posting on it. (make 'an' into 'a' in first pgh). I love the photos too. - Lewpie
You have an urban way about you. I like the way you carefully, lovingly reveal the nuances of this way.
Wonderful photos! I like your seeing and your knowing and your sharing. I miss the City and the BART trains.
Jane, I really like this a lot. I think it is your best post yet! The photos are excellent.
Great shots! Working on my third eye... not there yet.
Jane this is fantastic! What wonderful writing you have here; painting us fleshy pictures of your life in the zen zone of a big city. I'm with you on enjoying my time away from neighborhood/city chatter. The pleasure of being alone, yet not lonely, is a gift that keeps on giving. In my case, depending on what day you see or don't see me I could be the girl briskly walking by the blast of color on the walk, gripping my coffee or the extreme opposite; the chick on the couch digging deeply into a foreign film then onto another without a pause in between. Or I could be any number of things really, but my preference is the quiet zone. Always.

My sonic senses are not as attuned as yours... I'd trade my acute sense of smell with your hearing capabilities any time. *hit me up if you're game*

Occasionally though, I feel a shabby human being for not getting to know my neighbors. Then I remember they aren't the most pleasant people to be around. This hasn't always been the case. It's a city by city basis. My current location is not conducive to liking people.

Terrific piece Jane and I'm glad I stumbled across it.
You've turned the stereotype of what it means to be a "city slicker" upside down and made it sound like your very own Walden. "I sit alone....feeling fulfilled and relieved by the fact that I know so few of my neighbors' names." This is supposedly a bad thing, the anonymity of the urban dweller; yet you are proof that it's not. And this is the best:
"For instance, I now know how to hear and love my cat's tiny whistling snore, even when beset by the roar of traffic at dawn."