Thursday, December 15, 2011


I can knit a pair of socks, a scarf, a sweater. If I drop a stitch I can pick up the stitch, unravel a few rows, and re knit it. I definitely know how to fix a raveled sleeve.

Once I'm comfortable and wishing I would fall asleep, I start counting, and quote Shakespeare out loud to myself, silently, so as not to wake my husband: "One-ten-thousand --'Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care."

I pronounce this number (it takes a second to say it), and then I say each word of the Shakespeare as if I were in an auditorium, speaking clearly, communicating each syllable, each consonant.

Next, lying there, I recite, "Two-ten-thousand. Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care." Once again, with actress poise, I articulate each word.

Then, "Three ...knit ... etcetera." I'm slightly impatient, not bored, but I speak my Shakespeare sentence much faster

"Four --." A dark thought, a touch of anxiety sneaks in, I can't help remembering something I don't want to think about. A voice on the news, a photo, a face, accident, crying parents ...

"FIVE ..." I remind myself to enunciate. I'm more or less reliving, reviewing an event that's waking me up -- protesters, tear gas, missing baby? Did the mother kill it?

"SIX" -- I begin to see a bunch of words forming as if my brain is a computer screen filled with letters that are spelling out words that I typed during the day ... Pets, Vets, candidate, commentator making anti-Obama remarks.

Soon I mutter, "Seven -- dammit, this is dumb -- this isn't working -- I'll never fall asleep ..." But while I'm complaining, I repeat "sleep that knits ... " scribbling bleach, Easy Off, Windex on a shopping list.

I murmur, "Eight. I should get up, make some hot water cocoa, what's in the fridge, anything to snack on? Why don't I write a post about biggest losers, diets, drinks, lying ads ...

Nine? Or am I on "ten?" I chant.. "TEN ten thousand, sleep that knits ... " while wondering if I'm on "eleven," deciding that next time I'll chant TWELVE TEN THOUSAND, RAVELED SLEEVE, and then, then ...

I more or less keep going, battling black thoughts, occasionally reliving an event, sometimes seeing typed letters. Words I wrote last month start mixing in with yesterday's words. I reach, eyes closed, for a sip of water from the glass next to my bed -- sip, change positions and start again with "one ten thousand. " And then -- well -- if I get to 30 ten-thousand, I get up. I head for the kitchen where I make hot water cocoa, and watch on the kitchen TV some late-night program on cosmetics, Bosley hair, cancer care, bed linens, while sipping my cocoa and channel surfing peevishly till the cup is empty. Off goes the TV -- off I go back to the bed and knitting, not knitting, complaining that sleep isn't knitting up anything, before I doze off and sleep, sleep.

Does my Shakespeare chant work? Does "sleep" knit up the raveled sleeve? Not reliably!

Maybe tomorrow I'll try "To be or not to be, that is the question --whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take arms against a sea of troubles?"

Yow. I'm picturing the Titanic ...

I'm going back to knitting ...
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