Project 40

The year I turned 40, I entered into a deep self study I called Project 40. Wanting to understand how I’d gotten where I was – a place further down the road from where I believed I should have been – I spent 12 months tracking what I did, who I met, how I spent my time. I logged over 200 variables – from how often my gas tank sank to empty, to the times when I told someone’s secret, to a count of how many alcoholic beverages I consumed. This I did without family or friends knowing – not even my husband, unaware that after each of our romps in the bedroom, I turned over and scratched down a tally mark, noting our sexual start and end time, location, position(s).

A semi social scientist by trade, the business of numbers, of data, of analysis fascinates me. I wanted to use my experiment to offer a simple example on how numbers are easily beneficial, even for people bewildered by statistics. And also to talk about how they’re often misused and manipulated to exaggerate and deceive and underplay.

But that got dull once I dove into my data. What sparked with me instead were the stories from my past I was reminded of as I sifted through my information. Like the time friends and I crashed the Chicago Bulls’ first championship after party, dancing along with Michael Jordan and the rest of the team to the sounds of 2 Live Crew (which I was reminded of after noting my count of celebrity sightings – four). And how my sad count of only four passionate kisses took me back my very first kiss, one interrupted by a woman needing to use the restroom, as it happened in the Ladies Lounge aboard Amtrak’s Sunset Limited train. So a personal primer on statistics evolved into a set of stories peppered with bits and summaries from the year of counts.

These are the stories inspired by Project 40.