Saturday, January 12, 2013

Of Elevens and Pennies

When I was a kid, I commandeered the number 11. I declared it my favorite number, and for some reason, felt warmly attached to it. Perhaps it was the pleasing three-syllable word, sounding a little like elfin, or maybe it was the look of the figure, the symmetry of the two ones. In any event, whenever I was asked to “pick a number” or ascribe a number to anything, it was always 11. Eleven was “my” number.

Jump forwards a few decades. From editing a book for a numerologist, I learned that 11 is regarded by many as a master, even magical, number.  For the purposes of their trade, most numerologists reduce numbers down to a single digit. For example, 176 would be reduced to 14 and then again to 5. Except for 11; it stays as is.  In some interpretations, 11 represent balance; in others a gateway. By all accounts, it’s a good thing to have in your life.

My birthday falls on the 29th of the month, so based on all of this, it turns out 11 actually is significant for me. At the time I was working on the book, I lived in a house in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles. The last two digits of my house number were 65; the last two digits of my zip code were 65; and the last two digits of the phone number randomly assigned to me by the phone company were 65. I just thought it was an amusing co-incidence. I started to incorporate the numbers 11, 29, and 65 into all my pin numbers and pass codes.

I also was vaguely aware that there was something called the 11:11 phenomenon. People all over the world claimed that they saw this number with unusual frequency. I thought it sounded a bit silly, but truth be known, since I regarded 11 as my personal number I was mildly miffed that I was not privy to this.

That is until a couple of months ago.

Then it started. Suddenly I began to see 11, 11:11 or even bigger multiples of the number everywhere I looked. I’m not kidding; everywhere.  Yes, it seemed to be 11 minutes passed the hour whenever I looked at the clock, but it was way more than that. Here’s just one example I caught with my camera. I was sitting in a coffee shop and glanced at the building across the street. There were two number 11s on the one wall.

You could put this down to what some people call “red car syndrome” where you see a red car of a certain make and then notice it everywhere. I believe in the psychological world it’s called perceptual vigilance, where your attention is drawn to things you are interested in. That could well be the case some of the time, but there have been too many weird occurrences that seem to fall outside of that explanation.

For example; before I went out for the night on New Year’s Eve, I checked my blogger dashboard to see how many hits my blog had had. The tally for the year was 111111 and the post with the most hits for that day had 111. Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast of NPR’s Morning Edition while I did some chores. It stopped broadcasting as occasionally happens if the internet goes woozy. But instead of coming back on in a few seconds, it stayed off. I went to look to see if I could click it back into action. The little slider thing that tells you how much time has elapsed was stuck at 11:11. When I glanced at the time in the corner of my screen it was 11:11. And oh yes, the date was 1:11. It is kind of strange; no?

It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me. There was the case I refer to as pennypalooza. For a few months before I left my California home and moved to Mexico, I found a one-cent coin almost every time I left the house. I would be walking Henry and glance down and see a penny at my feet. Or I’d take the trash out and find one in front of the dumpster. They would be next to where my car was parked. Once, I found one as I walked across a grocery store parking lot. I dropped it into the little plate on the checkout counter that had a sign saying “Leave a penny; take a penny” and promptly found another while walking back to my car.

The incident that really made my hair stand on end was when I'd been out for a short while and came home to find a penny that hadn’t been there when I left, on my doorstep. I had not told a soul about what was happening with the pennies so no one had put it there just to mess with me. And I lived in a gated complex of just three units. The people in other two homes were at work all day so only I was around. Even the mailman and delivery people couldn’t get in without someone to open the gate. I could think of no rational way that penny could have got there. I actually started to wonder if I was having some kind of psychotic breakdown and was dropping the pennies for myself to find!

I saved the coins in a jar. When I was packing up to move to Mexico I decided to cash them in at one of those Coinstar machines that they have in supermarkets. Just for fun, I thought I’d buy lottery tickets with the money. I went to two stores and the machines were both out of order. So I put the bag of pennies in my glove compartment and gave them no more thought once I got caught up in the frenzy of moving. Until I started writing this, I had forgotten they were there. I just found the bag under all the papers and other stuff that accumulates in the glove compartment. Here they are.

There’s a tendency to want to find some meaning or message to things like this. Is the Universe trying to tell me something?  If so, what the heck is it? There’s no point in the 11s and the pennies having significance if I don’t know what it is. That’s just plain frustrating. So as far as I’m concerned, it’s just odd co-incidence; maybe synchronicity.

Oh, wait a minute. Eleven’s made up of two ones and a penny is a one-cent coin. Perhaps it’s number one  that’s haunting me ... ? 

Okay: After typing that last sentence, I looked to see what the word count was for this blog and this is what I saw. Hand on my heart, I did not arrange this. Now I'm all creeped out again.

1 comment:

  1. Hola Angela,
    So glad your blog is back...have you counted the pennies? And guess what? When I add up all my birth dates and break it down...yep, it's 11!