I guess it may have had something to do with my unsuccessful efforts at drawing. With so much fresh music to listen to I thought it would be great to put on the new cds and assume my usual drawing pose on the living-room floor, pad and pencil in front of me ready for any inspiration the music may induce. I started a couple of sketches, but nothing seemed to work or flow right. In fact the more I drew the more dissatisfied I became until I finally ripped out the pages I'd been working on and shoved them in the trash.
I decided to text Rob and see if he'd be able to cheer me up at all. On weekdays we usually don't talk until 9:00 (when unlimited nighttime minutes start on my cell phone), but yesterday I contacted him around dinner time and suggested that if he were free, maybe we could hook up via skype for some crosswording.
A little over a year ago during one of my visits to Ithaca, we watched the movie "Wordplay": a feature about crossword puzzles and the oddball quasi-genius types who obsessively create and solve them. Much of the movie centers around the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament--a word-lover's olympics started by long-time editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, Will Shortz. It's amazing to watch competitors solving these puzzles. They race through them as though they'd already memorized the answers and have only to fill in each square with the appropriate letter. I don't know about you, but I have rarely even been able to finish a crossword on my own!
Both Rob and I thought the movie was a ton of fun. Even better: a mini-book of iconic NYTimes crosswords was included with the dvd. We thought we'd give these puzzles a shot together, and since then, have made crossword-solving sessions a near weekly ritual (yes, we're officially a couple of nerds!). Soon after our initial foray into this quirky pastime, Rob found a great collection of NYTimes crosswords in book form: "The Little Black and White book of Crosswords" edited by Mr. Shortz. I went and picked up the same one for myself. Now, usually on weekends when I'm not working, we connect over skype (a WONDERFUL service if you haven't tried it) and spend some time solving puzzles.
Finishing something like this together is a great way for us to connect and momentarily forget that nearly the entire country lies between us. Even if we've chosen a particularly challenging "Friday" or "Saturday" puzzle, (difficulty is designated by days of the week with Monday being the simplest), by the time we're through (as long as there wasn't too much wikipedia involved) we generally feel satisfied and comment about how nice it would be to to reach through the computer screen for a victory smooch:)
Yesterday we chose a "Wednesday" and spent a little less than an hour solving it...with mostly no cheating this time! (we only had to confirm one letter after we finished). The best puzzles usually have some sort of clever theme to them and this one happened to be particularly goofy.
Here are some examples:
"Enjoy yourself?" in Jakarta?
=JAVA NICE TIME
"Need your cup refilled?" in Apia?
=WANT SAMOA TEA
"Having indigestion?" in Denpasar?
=GOT A BALI-ACHE
"Get your idea across?" in Kingston?
...and my personal favorite:
...you get the idea.
We chatted for a while afterwards and by the time we said our goodbyes, my mood had lightened considerably. I'm lucky to have such a patient and supportive guy in my life. The past year was a challenge for me on many levels and Rob was (and continues to be) there listening and encouraging me throughout all of it. He's heard every rant in my book and has probably listened to more orchestral excerpts for trumpet than he'd care to think about, but amazingly he still seems to enjoy hanging around. Thanks again Dr. Owen--see you in a few weeks:)