Friday, February 19, 2016


The word is "ravel". It means almost exactly the same thing as "unravel", a synonym that exists apparently only because we English speakers had to add a negative prefix to a perfectly fine word, for no good reason, a la "irregardless". Etymology is arguable, but it seems that the act of raveling is both itself and its inverse, as it tangle or to disentangle, to weave together or to undo such texture. This may seem like a contradiction, but actually makes some sense when you realize that ravel is also a noun, so in some sense, the act of raveling is just something you do to a ravel, and what you do would depend on what you were trying to achieve. Separate the strands of a knot, or bring the separate threads together into a whole? They are two sides of the same coin, after all...

Ravel was the word that came to mind this morning. I'd awoken to the sound of harp strings, i.e., my phone ringing, with a call from an unknown number somewhere near a southwesterly suburb that's unfamiliar to me, and my first thought was: what if something's happened? I waited to hear the soft gong of my voice mail, more worried than I should have been. It's a wrong number, of course. The bell rang. The message was from a "metro mobility" service, calling for someone named Tanya, or Tonya, or Tahnya, or you get the idea. Not for me. I rubbed my eyes and thought for a minute.

Some time before that, either immediately or hours earlier when my alarm had gone off, I woke from a dream. It was one of those dreams where someone you care about betrays you rather deeply and then nonchalantly rubs it in your face. Everyone has those, right? I would assume so, but then again, I've never dreamed of losing all my teeth or in black-and-white. In any case, it wasn't a very nice feeling to wake up to, or remember. I got up. I walked to the bathroom.

The Universe is pulling on your sweater, I thought. No, not the Universe: Life. Life is tugging at my sleeve, while I just continue to walk away and let it ravel...raveling... Back in the day I suppose people would purposefully ravel things in order to make them into something else--but who does that anymore? Ravel, unravel, what difference does it make?

I called the clinic. Yesterday afternoon I was assaulted out of nowhere by a cold sore, and I was not about to let it get the better of me. Ever since being blessed with this repugnant contagion, I've been subject to sores cropping up around my mouth when I'm under stress, or under-slept. I find them absolutely insufferable and as such, I now rely on modern pharmaceutical medicine to relieve me of this hateful burden. Despite my usual bent toward toughing it out or natural alternatives, this is one drug I will not give up, ever. It works, and frankly I don't care what else it does to me. I suppose what I'm saying is that I would rather die than endure a cold sore, and yes that might be going a bit far, but just a bit...

The nurse who called me back turned out to be quite helpful and friendly, if a tad surly. I had to do a little bitching and complaining and honest-to-goodness sharing in order to win her over (somewhat grudgingly) to my side, but she filled my lapsed prescription, and then on top of that offered a few personal recommendations for a new doctor, gave some good advice, commiserated about our healthcare system and responded with genuine gratitude when I thanked her for all the help, told her I was feeling better already and wished her a good weekend. It was a very strange goodbye, like parting ways with a stranger at the airport after you just shared life stories for a whole flight...would we ever speak again? See you in a couple months, she finally said. I called the pharmacy and they told me they'd have it ready in fifteen minutes. I hadn't even showered yet.

I logged in to check my email and to let my boss know I'd be in a bit late.  No worries, as usual--for her at least, although it is a relief and actually a godsend that I have a job that allows me the flexibility to adjust my schedule, and to work from home. No worries is just fine by me. Then something in my email caught my eye, and gave me pause for a moment... The Word of the Day for today was: "Astrolabe - plus, a ravel of knitting words". 

Huh. How about that.

What are the chances, do you think? How many words in the dictionary, days of words, monkeys with typewriters? Where are the scientific studies on the statistics of synchronicity? I'm not saying it means anything, but how can it mean nothing?

The thing about a dream is that it's always raveling... 

I put some coffee on, noticed it had started to rain. The gentle plink of raindrops meeting the metal chimney of the vent above the stove offered some quiet comfort, like the voice of an old friend. There goes the snow. I'm not at all eager to see Winter be washed away, and with it the little snow that we may have left to enjoy this year, and yet...if the sound of raindrops can put a doubtful heart at ease, then maybe I am ready for this Winter to ravel into Spring...and to see what can be made of this old sweater I've been wearing.

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