Counting my pennies

The day was a struggle. Couldn’t find things, couldn’t do art, my brain was not working, my feelings were painful and confused.

I broke out a new brick of pennies, and sorted four rolls into years.

I was still crying at the end of those 200 pennies, but I felt a little bit better. So I broke out 10 more rolls – 500 pennies.

The repetition was soothing.  The activity was clear and simple.

Examine each penny, then place into holders by year. A plastic egg carton works well for this.


I used a jeweler’s loupe to see the year. There’s always a few pennies that are too dirty or corroded to make it out, but a loupe can magnify enough for most of them.

Pennies sound like slow rainfall – the pleasant “plick” as each one drops into its cup atop the others.

Each year coming together into its own little mound. Each penny-day distinct as its builds into something larger.

The sense of order, however superficial it is, gives my brain a few seconds of relief from the chaos.

By the end of 700 pennies, I stopped crying.

Today’s penny is a 2015, the most plentiful year in my collection.