I was sick as a child. The doctor told my mother: write down her temperature; write down how many times she throws up in the bucket by the couch; write down how many tablespoons of water you give her. Give her a little more water every hour. My mother called the doctor with updates. She kept track of how much Tylenol, how many doses of cough medicine. The antibiotic that gave me hives. How many hives it gave me. She kept track of how many days of school I had missed. How many quizzes I’d need to make up, how many cars and plants and animals I’d need to cut out and glue to construction paper so as not to be held back a grade. She wrote down the answers to the math problems we did, together, her with her reading glasses on, me with a cool washcloth covering my forehead.
Now, I try to stay organized. I know how many headaches I’ve had in the past year, how many total times I’ve sprayed myself in the eye with hairspray. How many almonds can fit in a fourth of a cup. How many calories those almonds contain. I’ve made a list of the books I want to read, and I’ve checked off the ones I’ve read. If I read a new book, I add it to the bottom of the list with a checkmark. If I do something not on my to-do list, I add it to the list and cross it off immediately. I know how often, statistically, I stub my toe on the coffee table while going to refill my glasses of water. How likely I am to wake up in the middle of the night. How likely I am to hallucinate a ghost if I do. I know how many times I’ve been too afraid to look directly at a person I love, and how often I end up looking at the next person over.