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  • kenpasternak

My Addiction

I am addicted. I admit it. However, I don’t think I am doing anything harmful to my body and in fact, many experts believe I am preventing the onset of memory loss and degradation of mental acuity.

My habit started when as a student in Paris I was introduced to the ‘International Herald Tribune.’ It was a great newspaper for staying on top of US and world events plus the American sports scene. It was also my fateful introduction to the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Published every day, the NY Times crossword increases in difficulty from Monday through Saturday. Sunday’s puzzle is larger in size, but its difficulty level is the same as Thursday.

Here is what I have learned from my relationship with the puzzle.

1)     It is a great travel companion. I’ve often collected puzzles over several days and spent many hours on airplanes with distraction-free entertainment.

2)     It is an exercise in concentration and focus. Skills that can be applied elsewhere.

3)     I have learned the value of re-setting my thinking. There are times when I just cannot get the answers. I put the puzzle down and come back to it a few hours later or the next day. Wham! Amazingly, the answers pour from my brain onto the page.

4)     Communication is about sender and receiver being in synch. There are some puzzle creators whose logic or humor (which there is often in the puzzle’s design and clues) I just do not get. When I cannot get enough of the squares filled after spending a frustrating amount of time, I’ve learned to declare a truce and move on to the next day’s offering.

5)     The puzzle has afforded me an opportunity for continued learning about sometimes obscure facts and pop culture references. I would not know the names of so many popular rappers, otherwise.

6)     Forget melatonin. Doing the puzzle at bedtime is stimulating, but at the same time relaxing.

I confess that I only enjoy doing the puzzle on paper, printed out each day. In consideration of the trees that have been cut down, when completed, I tear the paper into quarters and use the blank sides for note taking, things to do lists, and reminders.

Time to go back and figure out the clue for 22 across.

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