So I did it. I brought a project into the yarn store where I sometimes work and asked for help. Begged for help. Because I was going to bash my head against the shelves holding the cotton yarns if someone didn't get between me and this project.
I don't know what it was that kept me from going in sooner: embarrassment? Pride? I guess I figured that if thousands of other knitters could figure out this pattern, so could I. But no. I couldn't.
And you know what? That's ok. The only thing proven by today's breakthrough is that my mind works differently than other people's. And that's not such a bad thing.