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.