I like counting in my head

old school abacus


Counting in my head is one of my favourite things to do. I just realised this officially the other day as I was getting off the bus. Someone spoke to me (how inconsiderate) as I was deep in mental arithmetic and the numbers went clean out of my head and I was secretly pretty pissed off.

I find counting very peaceful and uplifting. Sometimes I don’t even know that I am doing it and then wonder why I am all of a sudden just that little bit happier than usual. And then I remember it’s because I was counting.

Usually I count things like:

days of annual leave owing to me (current and projected – if you don’t already know, for most people it works out at 1.66 days per month)

days until next scheduled holiday

the ridiculous amounts of money owing to me (the collective ‘me’, that is)

how much the monthly bills add up to

expense claims

And those are the main ones I can think of right now. It strikes me as funny because I am no good at maths. I can add okay though, up to a point. I got sixth form maths, but only with a tutor, and it was a borderline pass, and I was pleased to see the back of it.

I wonder if I like counting in my head so much because I spend so much time with words (mostly writing them, and mostly words I do not feel especially attached to in any way/many ways), and maybe it’s the starved other hemisphere of my brain screaming out for some activity.

I found out the other day in the New Plymouth Cobb ‘n Co that I can actually do Soduku – and I love it! For some reason up until then I had always thought I was too stupid for such a numeric pastime, but when I was told it was only a bit of a puzzle involving some mental arithmetic – well! – you should have seen me!

I also like making mental lists, although usually they spill over onto paper because although my brain can contain them, it is slightly defective and cannot recall the lists even 10 seconds later. Perhaps my favourite mental list exercise is this one.

When you can’t sleep, or need to focus an unruly brain, pick a certain type of thing, like flowers, or supermarket brand names or people you know under the age of 10. Shut your eyes (if sleep is your main objective – no real point otherwise, you’ll just look like a dick) and go through the alphabet letter by letter, naming a thing. Agapanthus, briar rose, camellia, dandelion… Sometimes you won’t even make it to the end. Sometimes you will make it to the end, but you will feel calmer, and ready to start alphabeticising your next list of chosen things.

Speaking of counting, there is a guy at work who reminds me heaps of The Count from Sesame Street (whose full name, by the way, is Count von Count). Every time I see him now I think of The Count, and of counting in general, by extension. I feel sorry for the guy I work with. He is a really nice guy, but every time I talk to him now, I think he is going to burst out with one, two… and then start cackling. But of course I can’t tell him that.