Thursday, July 2, 2009


#183, Irishtown, Dublin

It's official: my Quixotic quest to bring you 365 numbers in 365 days has reached its mid-way point. I searched earnestly for a 182 1/2 to commemorate this milestone with perfect mathematical precision, but that messed with my sense of symmetry and anyway, there weren't any. So let's slice it at 183 and call it even.

With milestones come inevitable questions, such as: Why start a mad project like this in the first place? (A: Because, like Everest hacked into hundreds of pieces and scattered across dozens of cities, it's there.) What will the next half of the year look like? (A: Still workin' on it.) And, perhaps most interestingly: What to do after hitting 365? After all, as a novelist, I'm a long-distance runner writer. I'm in things for the long haul. But I've grown rather fond of the immediacy of these daily dispatches and exchanges. It's a nice break. It reminds me that I'm more than a mad scientist toiling and cackling maniacally in a a castle populated only by dust mites, messy manuscript pages, and cobwebs. A romantic role which, by the way, I quite relish.

I like writing about place, memory, and space. I like photographing my cities. I like the challenge of a good project. And while I'm perfectly content to let the project end at 365 as planned, I also feel the enthusiast's restlessness. The mad desire to globe-trot in search of some inconsequential thing, a piece of architecture or a forgotten plaque: ghost signs, ampersands, writers' residences, wrought iron bootscrapers. Something. Anything.

Rather than tax my own brain cells, which are still a bit sun-dried from Italy, I thought I'd open this question to you, dear readers. After all, you're the ones following along and helping to feed the obsession. After the bell tolls on 365, what next? Keep going or start all over again? Go in order? Out of sequence? Or is it time to venture into the unknown? Time to pack it in? I have plenty of ideas, of course, but I'm curious to see what feeds you as well as me. Tell me what you've enjoyed. Tell me what you'd like to see more of. Be as hare-brained, serious, whimsical or as obvious as you'd like. My obsessions tend to have strange and unpredictable onsets, so who knows what will happen next. But I value your two centses, my pretties. Indulge me a little &7 mid-semester report. Won't you?

And one last note to those out there who simply like lurking, thanks for reading, too. I do this primarily for myself, but it's gratifying to know that these pictures and stories exist now in a space that -- like the numbers I discover -- are there for whoever happens to come across them. Not everyone will notice them, and fewer still will care, but I share for the sake of those who take pleasure in those small moments of discovery. Of not just looking, but really seeing. Thanks for making this such a worthwhile endeavor.

And so. Time to raise a glass, take a breath, and look fearlessly forward. Bring on the next 183!

13 comments: said...

For purely selfish reasons we'd like to see numbers 366 to 731.

You bring order to a chaotic world, and during our recent move from LA to Chicago we found comfort in the consistency of Ampersand and your ordered universe. Plus, we love the writing!

So, whether it's numbers or not, we hope to still see Therese in some way, shape or form, after #365.

Therese Cox said...

Thanks, designslinger. I am generally better at bringing chaos to an ordered world, so it's nice to know the opposite can be true as well.

I'd probably need an entire year of refueling to capture 366 to 731, not to mention some plane tickets to various cities. New York could get me through the 500s with much variety, but otherwise I'd just be dragging myself up Broadway, grudgingly taking pix of every doorway, muttering about how I missed the double digits.

How's Chicago looking for numbers? Lots of four-digits in my experience.

Flann O'Coonassa said...

Congratulations on the milestone Therese. After the full 365, might I suggest you scour the globe in search of broccoli that bears a passing resemblance to Jesus of Nazareth?

Or if you'd rather maintain a separation between church and stalked vegetables, then perhaps Elton John could stand in for The Almighty?

Therese Cox said...

Flann, you and I both know that you ate that broccoli long ago, the same night I had that Virgin Mary taco.

But yes, I do maintain a staunch believer in the separation of church and stalked vegetables. Just like I believe in the separation of Elton John and my ears.

Welcome back - we've missed you.

Jackie said...

Maybe some thematic entries... like- numbers that didn't fit your original scheme?

Or- numbers that you associate with a particular writer or time period or memory.... etc.

Or-- you could always start back at one. (I feel like there's some kind of pop song in the recesses of high school memory about starting back at one...? ::Insert pop song:: (if it does indeed exist))

Ken Mac said...

a good one!

Therese Cox said...

Thanks, Ken Mac. This one was pretty much a gift. Between the deep red color and the writer's hand, I was drawn to this one right away.

And mmm... those are all good ideas, Jackie. I do have a sort of Island of Misfit Numbers collection here that might like to see the light of day.

Ray Gunn said...

Or! Seeing how you were inspired by Zak Smith's GR installation, you could do a photo per day for each page of favorite novel. The photo could be a number. Or not. It could be directly related to the text. Or not.

If you don't do this project, I might!

Ray Gunn said...

of a favorite novel.

Pierre said...

Try the alphabet. Find buildings labled A to Z or as many as possible.

How about using store or brand names and write a story using the names only. Adjectives and verbs ok.

Photos of plaques on sidewalks and or manhole covers in a specific area.

I like old doors. There must a bazillion in NY.

The number of pigons in NY?

Count the cars on the New Jersy turnpike who've all gone to look for America.

Oops. I digress

Therese Cox said...

Mmm... more good ideas, Ray and Pierre. I was just thinking of Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus, where all the numbers are written as numerals rather than spelled: 1, 2, 1,000,000, etc., which would be fun to mess with.

But if I go with Pierre's story idea, I am definitely going to write the tale of Dapper Dan and his imperial clothes.

Radge said...

Maybe start looking around for things that are concealed, or partially concealed. People wearing headscarves, masks, an interesting room with curtains closed...

A 'what lies beneath' type of thing.

If you don't do it, maybe I will, but I'm hopeless with a camera. So you'd better.

Julie said...

It is the writing that makes this site for. The writing and also the interplay with the commenters.

The 365 numbers is a structure to hang the writing and anecedotes on.

Nothing that limits you geographically. Something that limits you sequentially.

I like the idea of a photo for each page of a novel. Fitzgerald perhaps?