I’m setting down with some tea. I had wine on Friday night and regretted it – I couldn’t sleep and and had to fight my tendency toward rumination.

Tonight it is Mint Matcha Green.

I took the news apps off my phone this afternoon.
I went to the beach for a run.

I snapped at my husband at dinner, and then typed a running commentary on Telegram to my son – all about how stupid the guy giving a TEDx talk was.

Things go up and down. And most of the time I don’t like myself. I think that is what too much time alone does to me. I circle around myself as my own critic, and peck at myself until I bleed.

Then I look for something beautiful. And I feel sorry for myself.

Leonard is sprawled across the cool floor next to my desk. Sighing occasionally.

And this is my life.

I was thinking today about the gross national product. And about the World Happiness Report that came out last week. About trust and security. And that means I’ve been thinking about faith again.

And wondering why it is so difficult for me to accept that I have faith – that I am honestly an optimist who pretends to be a pessimist. It’s almost as if I hold dire predictions in my hand, fingering them like talismans against the worse happening.

The blackbirds are singing in the dark. I keep expecting that should mean something, but it doesn’t. The blackbirds just sing. They sing when the sparrows are quiet, and the crows have left the trees for the night. They sing after the larks have settled in their nests in the grass along the furrows in the farmland behind the nursing home.

We are waiting for test results again.

Europe moved the clocks forward last night, so it’s later than it should be.

No wonder it’s so hard to catch up with myself these days.





An old photo Рand out of context Рbut it felt appropriate. 

I’ve been asking E. for a week now, what do I do with all these numbers?

Two years ago a colleague lost a baby in childbirth. It seemed to me like something that rarely happens now. It should be a scenario documented in a black-and-white photo.

But I learned than an average of 30 stillbirths a year is normal in this town. In any town this size, in this country. Statistically.

I thought if that had been a headline in the paper: 30 Stillborn in Stavanger this Year, it would have been terrifying news. Our realities are limited by what we put our attention on. And I suppose we pay attention day-to-day to what our hearts can hold comfortably.

So what do I do with all these numbers – these past two weeks when I have had too much time at the computer to jump between tabs and read the news too many times a day to count.

I know how many people are on a respirator at the local hospital today. I have no idea what that number means. I have no idea how many were on them in December. A year ago today. Or if that is even relevant.

I look at a map of Europe and we are dark orange where Italy is red. The chart below compares countries and numbers. People, percentages.

I have no idea what to do with these numbers – not intellectually – not emotionally. How do I hold these numbers?

It’s like grabbing at fish. With the same ambivalence about actually getting your hands around one.

What now?  What do I do with this?

I have an odd habit of counting. I think it is a kind of self-soothing. A form of meditation. Sometimes I notice it on long runs. There’s no melody drifting through my mind then: just counting. It makes no sense and sometimes I actually wonder if if is a self-soothing technique I picked up from Sesame Street.

Today is day 14. Which would be the end of a standard quarantine period here, but of course not the end for any of us now: 19 more days teaching from home, and working from home. Many are not working.

In 19 days, we will know more.

Maybe begin a new countdown.

But those are the numbers for the what-if. The take-care. Days as manageable degrees of separation from the normal.

For her now, unable to come home to us – and so for us, as well – the countdown is on hold while she waits for the infection to run its course through her roommate’s body. She can count the meals she leaves outside her roommate’s bedroom door.

Then the counting begins again: 9 days without symptoms. Then, another 14 days of quarantine because they share an apartment.

Temporal degrees of separation.

What do we do with this time now, counting backwards before we can start again?