Conscious Aging: Doing the Atlantic Crossword Puzzle

I have a reasonably good vocabulary, in part thanks to Mrs. Eva Temiersma at Kearny High School who made us do 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary in order to get an A in English class. That, and I’m a voracious reader and always have been. Even with a good vocabulary, I’ve never been very good at crossword puzzles. I lack the patience to try to figure things out. If I don’t recognize the word immediately, I move on in frustration — zipping through the clues faster and faster then ultimately deciding I’m not good at crossword.

The book I keep mentioning, Life Reimagined, encourages the tackling of new skills, and presses the case that the measure should be getting better, not absolute performance. With that in mind, I decided to tackle the new daily Atlantic Crossword Puzzle, which arrives online. This crossword is much shorter than the vaunted and difficult New York Times crossword, which makes it seem do-able. Like the Times, the Atlantic crossword is easiest on Monday and gets harder by the day. I don’t know if you need to subscribe to gain access but here’s the link. Says “free”, so maybe can access without subscribing.

I’ve had uneven results. One day I got all 12 words correct in a reasonable amount of time — yes, the puzzle is timed and the timer starts when you open up that day’s challenge. The next day I got 1 of 18 — that was a bit discouraging.

But I’m liking the idea that relative improvement, not absolute performance, is a reasonable goal. On the day I got 12 out of 12, I initially didn’t recognize most of the clues. But I got one word, and then another, and then … that’s how successful crossword puzzlers work, and for that day at least, I was one of them.

4 thoughts on “Conscious Aging: Doing the Atlantic Crossword Puzzle

  1. Like you, I was never very good at crossword puzzles. However, I started doing the daily one in the WAPO which comes from the LA Times about a year ago. I usually get through Monday-Wednesday with little difficulty, but have trouble after that. I tried the Atlantic one yesterday. Did about the same as you. Decided I could become addicted to doing that each day. Do I need to add that pressure to my life. Not really. But will try again – only occasionally πŸ™‚

  2. for Ada: Interesting, because I know you as someone who has an extensive vocab and highly literate sense as well. I have both of those but terrible spatial skills, which may weigh in doing crossword. Like you, I’m pretty good at Monday- Wednesday and fall sharply on Thursday-Friday puzzles. I don’t know how long I’m going to stick with this. For awhile was doing 300 piece crosswords to improve my spatial skill, especially when the grandkids were really into them, but that has slackened off. I think the point of pushing ourselves to develop new skills is a good one, but it has to be things we enjoy in order to keep going.

  3. Yes. I am terrible at Scrabble, too. When the TTT group plays at Chautauqua, I bow out. People wonder why pointing out my good vocabulary and “high literate sense.” Nothing to do with it. I just don’t see words from the jumble of letters. It’s a visual thing – maybe spatial. I don’t know.

  4. for Ada: Jerry had an aunt who was a world class ranked Scrabble player. Early in Jerry’s and my marriage, when I was still trying to make a good impression and overcome their dislike of his having married a shiksa, the aunt and I played a game. Blowout. She let me know quickly that I wasn’t in her league and never would be. I’m a little better at Scrabble than I am at crosswords, but have never forgotten my limits. πŸ™‚

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