Soothing Repetition

November 25, 2008
By jesslia BRONZE, Houston, Texas
jesslia BRONZE, Houston, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Knotting has always been therapeutic for me. The pattern somehow soothes my mind when I am bombarded with events, projects, and just daily life. I sit in our bed with my husband. He watches television while I start making a bracelet. With green embroidery threads I quietly start a cross stitch and think the pattern repeatedly in my mind: fold, under and over, pull gently, and turn clockwise ninety degrees. Repeat. Watching my fingers pull out the mistakes, redo the stitch, and continue, I try to dissipate the overbearing static in my mind. There are so many things clamoring for attention there is just noise. I need to remember to hire someone to clean the house, also finish my work project on time, make my husband and daughter their lunch, bake two dozen cupcakes for Lina’s class. Speaking of baking, should I make sugar or chocolate chip cookies? I'm figuring out which one to make for the holidays. I remember one time I was making peanut butter cookies and poured the mixed wet ingredients onto the baking sheet, forgetting there were dry ingredients I had to mix in as well. This was after the burning plastic fiasco. Silly me, I didn’t check for the already baked, pre-sliced, packaged bread my mother likes to store in the oven before turning it on to preheat. The plastic melted and caused a small fire, thus ruining my baking record for a few weeks.
Fold, under and over, pull gently, and turn clockwise ninety degrees. Repeat.
My mother had woken up to the sound of a power drill. It was my brother. Well, we all knew then he was going to be a dentist. Our previous mixer had short circuited and we had not replaced it yet. So my brother hooked a beater to the drill and mixed away.

We must have a gene for baking absurdities. I think we get it from my dad. He attempted to make spaghetti and ended up making fried noodles and a spaghetti sauce volcano. He never made spaghetti again.
Fold, under and over, pull gently, and turn clockwise ninety degrees. Repeat.
My friend Brad and I were in our third year of college and we were studying together. We decided to move the studying to his apartment. We stopped at a grocery store and picked up the ingredients for a spaghetti dinner. His roommate and friends practically inhaled almost all of the food we made. I was surprised we were able to get any. We grabbed our plates and sat outside on the stair steps leading to his place. We had finished eating and were looking at the blue black night sky. I commented on how saddening it was to not be able to see stars in the city. He replied that he saw two of them. I asked where. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I’m looking right at them.” I laughed, and he kissed me. I stopped laughing.
Fold, under and over, pull gently, and turn clockwise ninety degrees. Repeat.
The week before final exams sent shudders through every fourth year student’s spine. The end was so close, yet so far. Brad and I had been dating ever since the spaghetti night, but we had been fighting and yelling at each other more frequently. It would start with something silly, and then escalate into an all-out argument. The end of our relationship had been coming steadily, but after finals things became worse rather than better. We broke up a few days before graduation. Brad was never good at timing.
Fold, under and over, pull gently, and turn clockwise ninety degrees. Repeat.
I was sitting outside a café when a waiter placed a cup of coffee next to my calculation sheets. He informed me that it was from the gentleman sitting a couple of tables over. I sent it back. I was too busy and clumsy to handle a cup of coffee while trying to make my deadline. I had been very fortunate to find an internship at a leading contracting company a few months after graduation. I could not afford to lose this job.

I was solving complex math when someone cleared his throat. I ignored him. He cleared his throat and once again I ignored him. He pulled a chair to the table and sat across from me. I was too absorbed in my math to notice.

“I have a gun in my hand,” he said.

“Shoot me after I finish this,” I replied, not looking up.

“You know it’s rude to send back coffee, especially when it’s already been paid for.”

“It’s also rude to interrupt someone when they’re extremely busy.”

“You would see that I really don’t have a gun in my hand, except you don’t have enough courtesy to actually look at me while I’m talking to you.”

“Excuse me, but my deadline is at three this afternoon,” I said, still not glancing upward.

“So you’ll be free for dinner then.”

“Not with you.”

“I think if you saw me you’d change your mind.”

I raised my eyes and concentrated on keeping my mouth closed. He had a strong jaw, straight nose, warm brown eyes, strong, broad shoulders, defined cheek bones, perfect hair, muscular build…

He smirked and asked, “So how about dinner?”


His smile faded. “Can I at least know your name?”

“My mother always said ‘never talk to strangers.’”
Fold, under and over, pull gently, and turn clockwise ninety degrees. Repeat.

“Here’s some coffee, love,” said William, then my fiancée. After I had turned him down for dinner, he saw me a week later at the same café and convinced me to go on a date with him. We dated over three years, one thing led to another and next thing I knew he was down on one knee proposing to me.

As I stared at the masses of planning binders, invitations, and color samples, he massaged my shoulders as he pointed out which colors and flowers he liked. We were planning our wedding and it was a monstrous task, but it was all worth it. The ceremony was beautiful, the reception was an overall success, and we arrived safely in Cancun for our honeymoon. We were one happy couple indeed, until William sunburned. Well, you can’t have everything.
Fold, under and over, pull gently, and turn clockwise ninety degrees. Repeat.
It was Christmas and I was six months pregnant with my first child. It was after dinner and the adults were relaxing while my nieces and nephews watched the television or played games.

“Hey Nick,” I addressed my brother, “I’m having this insane craving for chocolate cake. You think you can hook up the power drill and make some real quick?”

Everyone laughed. Nick said, “I’m never going to live that down am I?” He did not attempt to get up and make some. I stared at him.
“What?” he asked.

“I was serious; I really am having this urge to eat chocolate cake.”

Eyes wide, Will asked, “Seriously?”

“Yes, I just said I was.”

He turned to Nick with a horrified look on his face. “Please make the chocolate cake before she throws a hormonal fit.”

I slapped him playfully on the shoulder. “What are you implying?”

“Hurry Nick, it’s already started.”

I slapped him harder and repeated my question. Everyone chuckled as Nick called out, “Dad? Where do you keep the drill?”

Will gave me a quick hug and said, “See, hon? Now your cake will be made faster.”

I slapped him again as a sign of my gratitude.
Fold, under and over, pull gently, and turn clockwise ninety degrees. Repeat.


I look up from my knotting and see my daughter standing in the doorway of our bedroom. “Lina? What’s wrong?”

William turns down the volume on the television as she rubs her eyes with a small fist and clutches her stuffed animal in the other. “I had a bad dream.”

I slip out of bed and scoop her into my arms. With her, I climb under the covers and deposit her between William and myself. He hugs her and tells her that the best way to get rid of monsters is to laugh at them. He then blows a raspberry on her stomach and she screams with laughter. He does it again and she is a ball of unrestrained giggles. Will glances up at me and smiles impishly. He asks Lina if Mommy should help them scare away the monsters. After her affirmative answer he looks at me with mischievous eyes and a crooked smile. My eyes widen as I sputter out, “Don’t you dare.” He lunges and blows a raspberry on my stomach and I shriek. Lina attacks me and promptly finds out just how ticklish I am. After a few minutes of raspberry tickling fun, Lina, exhausted,snuggles into her daddy’s arms. I smile, pick up the bracelet again and feel Will’s warm hand around my shoulder as he manages to encompass us both. I think I’ll make his favorite sugar cookies.


“Yes, Lina?” I ask, thinking she was asleep.

“What are you making?”

“I’m making a bracelet. Do you want me to show you how?”

Lina nods her head. I position the bracelet so she can see better and I show her the pattern.
Fold, under and over, pull gently, and turn clockwise ninety degrees. Repeat.

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