Like all crossword constructors, I work at home. Let me describe this. If you are eating something right now, consider putting it aside.
From 8 a.m., when my girlfriend leaves for work, to 5 p.m., when she returns, our apartment becomes a one-man society, ruleless and anarchic. I do not shave, bathe, wear much clothing, or care. I might blow my nose on a napkin, fold it, then wipe food off my cakehole five minutes later with that very same napkin, far too transfixed by my third Law & Order of the day to notice how phenomenally disgusting that is. I could go on (frequent naps, Google searches of “and morphed and horse and xxx,” etc.), but I think you catch my drift.
And yet the beauty part, as Ross Perot would put it, is that at the end of the day, all that crudity vanishes into the dustbin of history, and what remains is my pristine oeuvre, those glorious crossword puzzles, hovering like angels above the ugliness of this physical world—ugliness like that gnawed KFC drumstick resting on the edge of the coffee table.
10:15 a.m. There are crosswords to make, however, so on to the day’s work—but the muse, alas, she has other plans. O fickle vixen! She has not visited herself upon me, and I find little inspiration to practice my craft. I am a week or two ahead of deadlines, so it isn’t really a huge deal if I don’t get everything done today. Indeed, society seems fully capable of functioning without my participation, sometimes for embarrassingly long stretches.
11:35 a.m. Just to get some momentum, maybe I should try one small task. The sense of accomplishment engendered by its completion will propel me to a workday of admirable productivity. OK, I’ll look over some puzzles I’m supposed to be editing. Here’s one of the weekly boat-themed puzzles I edit. I solve it. It looks pretty good. Maybe I should fact-check it, or maybe I should edit one of these biweekly book-themed puzzles I do, or type some clues out to another puzzle, or brainstorm some themes for another client.
11:50 a.m. Or maybe I should spend the next three hours playing Yahoo! chess against a guy named “passedpawn2100,” whom I will beat 15 times and lose to four times, and who will finally quit with the words “fuck u mgaf” when I won’t let him take a move back, which is totally within my rights.
2:45 p.m. Too much chess, I’m feeling guilty for not working. The better half will be home in two hours. I start fact-checking that boating puzzle, full of vim.
Suddenly, the business phone rings. Could it be an important client, checking on the status of their crossword? Perhaps a magazine calling to commission puzzles? A newspaper reporter requesting an interview for an upcoming piece on cruciverablism?
It is, alas, none of these things. It is the Fates intervening, disguised as a wrong number. I had just garnered a little forward movement, but this has broken my inertia. Or has it? Let me read one or two Jean Teasdales on the Onion, then I’ll get back to work.
4:30 p.m. Wow, I read all the Jean Teasdales. Tempus fugit!
Lori will be home in 20 minutes. I start to clean the place up. The total amount of work I’ve done today could have been completed by Efficient Matt in about 60 minutes. It took Inefficient Matt seven hours. Tomorrow I will return to efficiency.
I read that some companies in Germany have four-day workweeks; employees take a weekday off. By that measure, I’ve put in an hour of overtime today. Overtime, man! I gotta start taking it easy.