A Game of Numbers

It takes me just under one hour to get to work. And when I get there, our agency occupies two of the three floors in the building. I work on three.

If I took a lunch hour, my work day would be divided into two four-hour chunks. But I rarely do this; I tend to go a full five days without carving out an hour in the middle. It’s a bad habit leftover from a past life.

When I get home, which is usually around six, I feed the cat, change out of my work clothes and usually eat around seven. Writing is a part of every day, and mostly happens in the evenings. I try to write around eight, since it takes me a full hour and I have a goal to always get to bed by nine. That never happens; ten is usually my default bedtime.

I can say a few things about “eleven.” Eleven is the shape my furrowed brow makes when I read an email that confuses me (happens a lot these days when one has to learn the ropes at a new gig), and this number makes me want to revisit my Botox days, brief though they were. For the time being, I’ll refrain and will put my faith in the non-needle magic of Obagi’s products (shameless plug).

An alternate 11 is the number of minutes it should take me to get from my driveway to the part of the 5 freeway where it meets the 22 west. Monday it tends to be longer. Friday it’s definitely shorter.

Our agency’s been having a lot of upfront presentations of late, and twelve has become the tasty hour. I’ve been avoiding the lunches, but noon marks the time of the day that signals leftovers will surely grace the kitchen in an hour or two. And nothing is more delicious with a mid-afternoon coffee than a [tiny] tasty treat which, I confess, I’ve snuck a time or two. But that’s between me and my Nutrisystem plan.

Thirteen: the number of non-agency, media-esque/news-y emails I received today.

Fourteen: the number of meeting acceptances I received today.

Fifteen: the number of minutes which make up a quarter hour. I leave my house at 7:15, and while we’re “off” at 5p, I generally shoot for a 5:15 departure.

Sixteen: the number of hours I’m awake during a day.

Seventeen: the number of muscles it apparently takes to smile. It’s also the number that gave me the idea for tonight’s post.

I walked out of my office this morning to make a quick jaunt to the ladies’ room and said hello to a few people along the way. It’s something that’s such a simple thing to do, but which can easily be avoided if you want to. It’s easy to walk with your head down, or while preoccupied with a document that just came out of the printer. It’s easy to be enthralled with a Blackberry (guilty), a plate of food you’re carrying (guilty) or a hot beverage (guilty, and you’d probably thank me for it).

Some things are meant to be focused on. Other things are fine to focus on, but can wait if you want to wait. I’ve never been more cheery at a job as I have at this one. I’m sure I’ll have my days (would be just like the universe to make tomorrow a difficult one), but this morning as I said a single word to a few people while on my way to the restroom, I found myself smiling with each “hello.” My spirit lifted over and over — and it didn’t necessarily need lifting.

I got back to my office and looked up how many muscles it takes to smile, and how many it takes to frown. The numbers vary wildly, but for the purpose of this post, we’re going with 17 and 43, respectively.

Tonight I am thankful for the single word that caused those seventeen tiny parts of me to manifest themselves in a smile over and over, and for the multi-hour effect it had on my day.

And since I can, I think I might actually start taking a lunch hour. Or walking during it. Or shopping. Or going out to the tiny ponds and streams behind the building and admiring the ducks and tiny ducklings — if only because they make those seventeen muscles come to life again and again.

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