Poetry & Prose

The Edible Complex

As a cruciverbalist, I have an obsession with solving and constructing crossword puzzles. My daily puzzle is a sacred ritual for me. Solving them alone serves as a meditative and personal mental challenge. Collaborating with my housemates, puzzles unite our minds with a common goal as our brains spin and scavenge through our collective memories to crack a theme and finish a puzzle. 

Constructing puzzles is a different beast. It starts with coming up with a theme that will comprise the longest answers in the puzzle. Creativity is confined to the rules of grid construction: the grid usually has rotational symmetry, the ratio of white to black squares must be right, and the fill—the words on the grid—should avoid “crosswordese” (rare words that are used more in crossword puzzles than in real life). Trying to fill a grid with an interesting theme while following all these rules can bring me an unimaginable level of frustration; I go through the five stages of grief during every puzzle construction process. But when something finally clicks, and the grid is full and the fill is valid and the theme is clever and all the hard work has paid off… the satisfaction is immeasurable. With that, I present to you: “The Edible Complex.”