My life of late has a whole lot of counting down, of numerical series. The last week of December, I decided I'd try to work out 84 times by the end of March. (The fact that that's almost impossible unless I exercise every day, or sometimes twice a day--unlikely--is beside the point. The closer I can get to that number, the happier I will be.) I was clicking along at 4-5 workouts per week, but then the end of last week, and this weekend, things fell apart a bit. Today, if my recollection is correct, got me down to 73. I'm sure I don't need to point out that there are exactly 74 days to go until March 31.

Then there are the house numbers. How many days until we close on the new house? We must close by March 2 to keep our loan, the sellers want us to close around February 5, the ever-accomodating state of New York gives us an automatic 30 day extension on our escrow, as they should, given the two (2) separate 1 (one) percent taxes they will levy upon the purchase price of our new home (let's not discuss that number, shall we?) immediately upon said close.

Ah, but we're not done. What number describes our house's worth? Where does its putative price fall in the spectrum of local housing inventory? There's not much for sale at our price point (again, let's just not go there) which might be good...or, might be bad. Interest rates are low again, though, and that bodes well...And what date will the listing officially begin? When will the house be open? How many of the thousand (yes, you read that right) photographs the lovely architectural photographer took will he use in the house's very own website? Welcome, my dear ones, to the realm of mid-range Los Angeles property sales. It's the wild west, with lots of zeroes.

All numbers. My whole life, at least the part I can remember, which is mostly the part since I started school, I have envisioned the calendar as a physical thing, a visual display of quantitative information la Edward Tufte...my calendar starts with 9, or September, in a nice corner on the right. There's a left turn long about October/November (ten, eleven) moving into twelve, at the upper left corner of the square we're forming. January, one, is around the bend, heading down through February, March, and around April, we start moving across through spring until summer takes us up the right side of the square back to September, where it all starts again. The shape formed by this sequence isn't always precisely square, but it is always precise. I always envision the passage of time along a geometric path, and the beginnings and endings are always the same. But now, with the cliched acceleration of time increasing along with my age, the path through the year feels more and more like a race. Do I need all these numbers to gauge my progress?

Numbers are hugely important to both my children, it seems. Dido is obsessed with age as a relative notion--in the preschool set (maybe more because his school has a multiage classroom) who is older than whom is a great predictor of pecking order and playground power. The Babe is excited by numbers, and starting to learn what they mean, though when it comes to her own identity, her number is fixed: if you ask her how old she is, she will always, always respond "Tree!" No discussion of her upcoming birthday number TWO will change her exuberant reply.

I'm not sure what all this adds up to, if anything. I have a suspicion that the recent imposition of organization and order upon my normally chaotic life (thank you, pending real estate transaction--nothing like having to show your house to strangers and snotty brokers to get you to throw shit out) has something to do with the comfort I am finding in lists and series. Of course, I also worry that as I run from the fear of leaving my home and friends, I am retreating to this world of easy labels and quantifiable achievement in order to hold tears at bay. We'll see.

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