It was at about this time last week that my mind finally snapped. I say this knowing that my nears-and-dears, who have had the misfortune of actually keeping company with me, will chortle when they read it, because they know that a) my mind snapped long before this, and b) seems to snap on a weekly, if not hourly basis. I appreciate their skepticism, but I also laugh at it. *I* know when my mind has truly snapped, and last Friday was the day. That was the day I sat down to take a break from Law School Application Essay Hell and decided to work on the scarf I’d started earlier in the month while watching Children of Men, using the glorious handspun wool yarn that Ragnvaeig gave me for Christmas. As I assumed the position, I looked closely at the scarf and found that I’d not only munged the stitch count, which would affect the lace pattern, but that I’d also made a mistake in the pattern eight rows back, all the way across a row, and it showed. I ripped it all back, managed (miraculously) to get the correct amount of stitches on the needle without dropping any of them and ruining the pattern further, realized that no, the scarf would not be finished today after all, contemplated the golf-ball-sized ball of yarn in my right hand and thought, it never ends, it just never bloody ends, nothing ever gets finished.
Of course that’s not true, and even in the depths of my own bad attitude, I knew that it wasn’t true. Life is finite, after all, and it’s not like we can bring our paperwork, or our yarn, with us when we go. (For reasons I can’t suss right now, I’m thinking of an ad for Comedy Central that Stephen King did back in the early-mid 1990’s. “We’re all gonna die, baby. I’m just making it more interesting along the way.” How I wish Comedy Central would run it again, although I’m sure we have it somewhere on our old MST3K tapes.) Even though I knew it wasn’t true, though, I couldn’t keep from lashing out about it. Intellectually, I knew that miracles don’t happen overnight, and it would take more than a severance check and a few weeks off to reverse months—no, years—of spiralling sadness and lethargy. Unfortunately, my intellect had apparently taken a month’s holiday and left the keys with my inner Awkward Teenager, who is all thumbs and two left feet, a roiling, seething mass of nerve and attitude.
I will not blame all of the above on the looming law school application deadlines, but I’d be a liar if I said they weren’t a contributing factor to the madness. The good news is that the applications are done, save for mailing off some admissions fees and a pair of forms that need to be filled out by the registrar of my undergraduate university. (I am still wondering why a dean’s statement is necessary for someone who has been out of college for 20 years, but as Alexander Pope would undoubtedly say, it is not mine to question, nor to understand, but merely to accept. No, I’m not chafing at the idea of acceptance. Much.) The bad news is that to get there, I had to go through the most arduous, torturous writing-and-editing process I’ve ever had. My senior thesis in college, 100 pages of nonsense about translation theory, didn’t give me as much trouble as my little 500-1,000 word essays did. Bunni and ‘mouse were kind enough to offer their editorial services, and it is a testament to the strength of their characters that they did not embed an axe into my forehead during the whole drafting process. Lord knows I gave them plenty of reason to do so. I don’t think I’ve heard so many variants on “whoa, whoa, whoa! Let’s take a deep breath and back away from the ledge!” in my entire life. When I wasn’t wailing piteously about how I was NEVER going to write again, NEVER EVER EVER, I was subjecting them to conversations much like this:
Bunni: What’s up?
Bakerina: What kind of sick f*?# puts a full-length mirror opposite a toilet?! In a bar, no less?!
Bu: Where *are* you?
Ba: Friendly Pub on Second Avenue. Lunch date isn’t here yet.
Bu: Okay, Jen, you know that nobody looks good when they’re sitting on the toilet. It’s not an aesthetically pleasing look for anybody.
Ba: No, no, no, it’s *different* for me! My entire body has become diagonal! It all starts at fixed points and then moves out in a diagonal line! Gravity hates me!
(audible sound of Bunni mooshing her fingertips against her brow)
Bu: Woman, don’t make me hurt you.
Ba: (meekly) Sorry.
I repeat, the good news is that this is all behind us now. I have written essays that have been deemed good by my fine, fine, superfine editing team. I have sent them, along with my resume and various and sundry application forms, out into the world. All that remains now is the waiting, but unlike my last go-round with law school applications, this time I don’t feel as if I’m hanging on by my fingernails, waiting for deliverance from an untenable situation. Not only do I have something worth waiting for, I have something—many things actually—worthy to do while I wait. I wake up, I look for work, I have coffee with Lloyd, I go to the pool and swim until I can’t swim any more. I fill out forms and remember that these are neither the first nor the last forms I’ll ever have to fill out again, so struggling against them is a pointless exercise, really. I pick the needles and yarn back up and hear Margene remind me that it’s the process, and that there is no such thing as a wasted effort, that even a sweater with eighteen inches ripped off the front has something to teach us, if we are open to learning from it.
It was about this time last week that my mind had snapped, filled with visions of appalling writing, further law school rejection, a life of knit-three-rows, rip-back-eight knitting, Lloyd and I living on oatmeal for months on end—and not even the good steel-cut stuff either. That was then. Now, though, I am waking up after months—no, years—of walking death. That sound I hear is not my mind snapping, but rather clicking into place.
The golf-ball-sized ball of yarn is gone, too, turned into a right snazzy scarf. Of course I knew it would.