Thursday, December 6, 2007

Crossword Puzzles and the Brain

My husband thinks it's funny that I start my day with three different online crossword puzzles each morning: Washington Post, USA Today, and WebCrosswords. Honestly, I need to do it. When I wake up my brain is in a pea soup fog, loaded with cobwebs. It's like the mess left by and surrounded with the mist, in the Stephen King movie of the same name. I think if he would have had those people in the supermarket doing crossword puzzles, he could have saved a lot of lives.

My work requires me to be sharp of mind. I work with words all day long, writing, editing, and reworking. My typing, spelling, and usage has to be right on, and I also have to be able to think like an engineer. Because I have to take something to help me sleep, I'm usually a little groggy, but since all of this nonsense started happening with my central nervous system, I've felt particularly groggy. I rediscovered an old love of my - the crossword puzzle. Now I'm hearing that I'm not alone. The typical age of the person who works the New York Times crossword puzzle is 50 or over (, and I don't think it's just nostalgia that's bringing us in (I'm not over 50 by the way). Anyone who wants to sharpen their mind need only sharpen their pencil. The clues range from simple to obtuse. You have to be on your game to do a crossword. If you have a crossword book (which has replaced magazines in my loo), you can always flip to the answers for a little peek. If you are working certain puzzles online, you can use the "regular" mode to see the letters appear red if you got them wrong. You can use the "Check" feature on the Washington Post puzzle to see if you have anything out of place. Once you get warmed up, though, you may find that you get the hang of it quickly.

Before you know it, you'll be quoting Shakespeare. Okay, maybe not, but you will feel more energized - mentally - than if you had sucked down ten double lattes from your local beanspot.

For me, I'll continue with my morning routine. Coffee and puzzles followed by a day of being a wordsmith. Crossword puzzles hurt no one, other than the few trees they kill in print or the coal/water/wind/nuclear power they consume when I do them online. Damn! Is there nothing that doesn't harm the planet? I suppose I could hole up in a high cave in the Himalayans, doing crossword puzzles in my head during meditation, but then again, that might break the rules. I guess I'll just have to accept my little carbon footprint in order to save my brain.

Have fun puzzling over this one, my sweets.

Peace - C

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