By the Numbers


Zip codes in which you have lived: 02114 (past), 55408 (current), and 05346 (also current). Apartments: six. Houses: four. Bathroomless one-room cabins in Vermont: one. Children, two of whom are now as tall or taller than you: three. Neurotic cats: one. Hyper dogs who remain meth-head-like no matter how much you exercise them: one. Broken bones: one. Trips to Italy: two. Times fallen in love: five. Eyeballs lasered: two. Days spent rising before 5 a.m. to write until you wrote a book good enough to be published: 5,476 minus approximately 1500 spent despairing of talent, lacking in work ethic, or too damn tired = 3975. Shoe size: ten. Minutes per running mile: the same sad nine. Ability to alpine ski, despite having attended a college with its very own ski slope: zero. Novels read: approximately 750. Trips to China: three. Times spent slapping then-four-year-old son in middle of night when you were exhausted and he would not let you sleep: one. Times spent despising self for slapping then- four-year-old son in middle of night when you were exhausted and he would not let you sleep: countless. Trips to Taiwan: two. Novels written (published): seven. Novels written (that will never be published): 2.5. Trips to Paris: one. Vows to stop saying the f-word in front of children: many. Times vow to stop saying the f-word in front of children has been broken: many. How much you used to pay youngest book-hating child to read, per half-hour: $.50. Best friends named Ellen Harris Swiggett: one. Marriages: one. Divorces: one. Trips to Portugal: two. Regrets: a few. Poems read before dawn daily: three. Friends and family members seen through cancer treatment: three. Trips to Spain: one. Shortest length of hair: one inch. Longest length of hair: three feet. Shade required to maintain hair’s natural color: L’Oreal French Roast #45. Trips to London: one. Pre-dawn times at which you typically wake and rise: 2:47, 3:20, 4:54. Strong cups of coffee drunk before dawn: .7. Men who, upon noting length of fingers, have asked if you can palm a basketball: approximately 18. Times heart has been broken: four. Trips to Mexico: nine. Pairs of tomato-red suede pants: one. Times spent dreaming that you are driving up an increasingly vertical road until your car tips backward and you fall into a bottomless void: at least 46. Times spent dreaming that you are short one chemistry class and therefore cannot graduate: at least 37. Letters written to grandmother before she died: approximately 570. Lindt Milk Chocolate Truffles consumed: approximately 2100. Times spent practicing Chopin’s Prelude in F Minor without noticeable improvement: approximately 233. Trips to Bhutan, Morocco, Macchu Picchu: none. Yet. Times daily you think how lucky you are to be living this big fat life: at least three.


  1. Felicia · January 21, 2009

    Wow! There’s so much I didn’t know about you!


  2. oreo · January 29, 2009

    i thought that chemistry dream was mine and mine alone, but i see it has been cheating on me, visiting you in the night when i thought it was safely home tucked in bed. i wonder who else it’s been on the down low with?


  3. alison · January 29, 2009

    Judging from the responses, that chemistry dream has been whoring itself out to many sleepers nationwide. Chemistry, math, German, polisci – they all seem to be popular anxiety dreams. Bleah.


  4. jill · January 31, 2009

    I just read Julia Gillian and I absolutely loved it.


  5. alison · January 31, 2009

    Well, that makes me love you too! I’m glad you liked it. That Julia Gillian is near and dear to me, not to mention Bigfoot. The next one comes out in April.


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