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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Cap and Gown List

Fellow Aggies, I have experienced a personal triumph. No, I didnt master sleeping with my eyes open in class, nor did I finally figure out the mystery that is traffic. My victory was in vocabulary, and occurred in tiny boxes separated by black spaces.

I finished the crossword puzzle.

When last week began, I set out to accomplish a long-time goal, and even recruited friends preemptively in order to ensure that I would have plenty of help waiting at the Coho table in case I got stuck. Finishing the crossword used to be just a pipe dream, something I considered to be an almost unattainable feat despite my affinity for the written language.

After much newspaper ink on my hands, countless letters in boxes and a lot of support from friends, I DID IT! I finished last Mondays crossword (yes, I know its the easiest one of the week.)

3 down: Small advances. Answer: Baby steps.

I have spent many years envious of those with superior crosswording technique. I myself am only a crossword aficionado with respect to the People magazine crossword, though I must say I have been known to complete those on a regular basis. However, while I could have coasted forever on my innate ability to play six degrees of Kevin Bacon with random celebrities and their careers, I figured it was time to branch out and expand my knowledge beyond that of tinsel town. So, I set my sights on The Aggie crossword. Besides, they say that crosswords and other puzzles keep your mind sharp, and its never too early for that!

5 across: Improvise on stage. Answer: Adlib.

I struggled a bit, like when it came to trying to figure out what Venetian blind part had four letters and started with ‘S (Answer: slat). While my arsenal of seemingly random knowledge is ever expanding, it isnt exhaustive, so I had to enlist the help of those with different sets of useless facts. I would recommend starting out your crossword puzzle career collaboratively, at least until you get the hang of the strategy and how to read the clues.

Ive discovered that plural clues lend to plural answers. I also learned that, often times, the longer answers are impossible to fill in on the first pass and you have to work on the ones around them in order to get letters to guess from.

7 across: Painfully obvious. Answer: Duh.

On a deeper level, I must say, simple as it may seem, finishing the crossword really did make me proud. Its good to have goals in life; goals keep us focused and driven enough to be motivated (even when the senioritis is setting in hardcore). Be successful, donate to charity, graduate from college, have a family; these are all worthy objectives. But, having small and attainable goals like completing a hard Sudoku, being able to flip a top hat backward onto your head or saying the alphabet backward before your plane takes off also serves an important function, giving us a sense of accomplishment, and that always handy shot of self-esteem.

25 down: Girl idolizing a pop star, perhaps. Answer: Teenybopper.

For me, little triumphs make me feel good about the regular days, the ones in between the major accomplishments, or, at times, the major disappointments.

Being able to recall a point of pride in a day makes me able to fall asleep at night with a smile on my face. Sometimes it really is the little things.

And, on a slightly less profound level, finishing the crossword puzzle was just fun. I especially enjoyed certain clues, like 43 across: Corned beef is usually ordered on it. Answer: Rye bread. Though, it did really make me want to fly home for the afternoon and have lunch with my brother at Brents Deli. But, I digress, and await my next trip home. I suppose the crossword will have to fill me up in the meantime.

EMILY KAPLAN still cant get the whole traffic mystery out of her mind. If you can explain it to her, please e-mail her at eckaplan@ucdavis.edu. She will be forever indebted.

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