Somnambulism and Vampire Coyotes

Saturday, Jan 21, 2012

A day or two ago I was bitching about an accident I had while washing dishes.  Such was the fit of housewifely enthusiasm that took hold of me that I set to scrubbing a set of stainless steel measuring spoons with escalating (and increasingly imprecise) vigor.  Finally my hand slipped, and although the spoons were not at all sharp, the edge of one made contact with the pad of my thumb so hard and fast that  it gashed my skin open.  The resulting wound was part bruise and part cut.  In light of what happened next, I should have considered quitting my bitching.

You may also remember a somnambulist episode that I had a month and a half ago.  It was the night before I was supposed to head off to Hawaii on a long trip, and my pre-travel sleep is always... erratic, at best.  I gather that I'm quite an active sleeper.  I talk, I walk, I've been known to instant message, and if you try to tell me that I'm just sleeping and should lie back down, I might just hit.  All with only the vaguest memory left with me the next morning. On this particular night, I somehow managed to break a glass in my sleep.  I woke up, on my knees next to the bed, mid-clean-up, with my hands filled with huge shards of glass.  I wasn't hurt, but I can't describe it as my most soothing ever awakening.

I put the worst of the glass on the bedside table and went back to sleep, and a couple of hours later I woke at the crack of dawn and left town.  For the next month, I only returned home long enough to crash for a few hours and then rush off again.  During this time, I wearily picked my way around the part of the room that was still covered in shattered glass, launched myself in the vague direction of the bed, and was unconscious within seconds, sometimes before the bouncing had even calmed from my acrobatic entry.

Long story short, that glass didn't get cleaned up for five weeks.  That's the kind of housekeeper I am, and why I can't have nice things, like pets or children.  Or, apparently, real glasses.  But although I'm slovenly, I'm also canny: in the course of this five weeks, I never once cut myself on the broken glass.

Until last night.  I was collecting recycling from all over the house, and frolicked, shoeless, too close to the bag holding the shards of glass.  I brushed against the edge of it with the inside of my arch, and then looked down in shock: my right sock was already soaked in blood, and it hadn't been more than a second.

Things I learned from this incident:

  • Feet bleed a lot, and quickly.  It took me about thirty seconds to realize that this was an effect of blood pressure. "Get the cut above the level of your heart," I kept muttering to myself.  Well, let me tell you, that's something of a challenge if the cut is on your foot.  Yogic training notwithstanding, the next minute found me in a position devoid of dignity: turtlelike, on my back on the kitchen floor, one leg in the air with both hands clamping a paper towel to the wound.
  • It only takes ten seconds of bleeding to make it look like you've committed a murder in your kitchen. Seriously: it was everywhere, and it was lurid.  If I had seen it as a crime scene on TV, my only comment would have been, "Pshaw.  Everyone knows blood isn't that red."  Well, it's bloody red.  I'm here to tell you.
  • It's surprisingly hard to get bloodstains out of polished concrete floors, even if (in a fit of good housekeeping, because you've learned your lesson) you wash them as soon as the bleeding has stopped, and before you actually attend to cleaning and bandaging the wound.  I kept thinking, "Should I be bleaching this?" and then "Who are you expecting, CSI?".
  • When you live alone in Nova Scotia, the monologue that follows this sort of incident goes something like this: "OK, pull it together, Sycorax.  You've stopped the bleeding, now get rid of the bloody paper towels and get a bandage.  Wait.  So where, in the six-part garbage collection system, do the bloody paper towels go?" [I begin to feel a bit lightheaded.] "Well, they're, let's see, organic material, that's kind of a sobering way to think of your own blood, but that means... compost, great.  WAIT! But they're a meat product (shudder), so I can't put them into the yard compost.  They have to go in the city compost." [At this point I'm swaying, so I sit back down on the kitchen floor and look despondently at the bloodstains.]  "Dammit."
You know you're living a different sort of life when you begin to contemplate the fact that composting your own blood could poison future vegetable gardens and draw coyotes to your door.  Coyotes with a taste ... for Sycorax.

2 Responses so far.

  1. I'm really glad you managed to stop the bleeding in such an efficient way, and very, very glad that you didn't cut your foot while you were sleepwalking.

    "Coyotes with a taste ... for Sycorax"

    That's a creepy thought, but I'm also a bit concerned that you're stepping out of The Tempest and into Macbeth. After all, Lady M. sleepwalks, I imagine she probably washes her hands "with escalating (and increasingly imprecise) vigor," she rules out having "nice things, like pets or children" (though I'm not sure of her position re pets), is surprised by how much Duncan bleeds: "who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him" and, like you, discovers that "It's surprisingly hard to get bloodstains out": "Here's the smell of the blood still."

    Is there an army of trees advancing upon Farfara?

  2. I'm about to venture into the land of TMI here, but I have to tell you that the first time I was ever kissed, it was while playing Lady Macbeth, during the "When you durst do it, then you were a man" scene, by the actor playing Macbeth (whose name I can't even remember now). I can't help but feel that such a beginning might have had a strange effect on the entire amorous life that ensued.

    And there might be an army of trees advancing. I think they do it when I'm not looking, but I can't be sure. Oh, Birnham Wood, you sneak.

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