Pandemic Puzzles


It began with an impulse purchase at a book store. I didn't want to watch any more TV and I needed something for my family to do together during the yawning chasm of unprogrammed hours of shelter-in-place. A thousand pieces of cats, and no stakes. It seemed perfect. 

Everyone did help puzzle, in their own way. I learned that my husband's approach to doing puzzles was not mine. That was okay. 

Soon it became an obsession, though. Just for me. Why do so many of them have gray fur?!

I stayed up into the middle of the night finishing this one. No bell rang at the end. No 2D cat sent up a high-five or came in for a cuddle. Everyone else was asleep.

In the morning, my kids begged to have this one framed and mounted on their wall. I bought myself a gold frame.

Soon, I got a lot more puzzles. Puzzles for me, puzzles for the kids, puzzles for the family. It turned out I could sit and puzzle while listening to podcasts or music and lose myself in time and space. I was here, but not here. May, June, July.

I lost hours puzzling. My kids helped, but not that much. My husband learned to approach carefully. I came to appreciate his insistence on sorting before placing.

So many podcasts, such a long pandemic. August. Apocalyptic weather. We were trapped inside, twice over. A puzzle of a melting glacier.

September. My eyes and head began to ache at the end of a long night of puzzling by the time I reached Diego Rivera. The light was never in the right place, and it was hard to distinguish five shades of green, a brown shoe if I dared glance at my hemorrhaging phone screen. 

October, then November. Everyone now knew that the election wasn't going to be peaceful or normal, for better or worse. The puzzles got harder--who selected these? I told myself they were both impossible and solvable. So I focused more and more on sorting and placing by shape, not color. It became to feel imperative, and the headaches got worse.

November 3rd. I puzzled Bierstadt's Bridal Veil Falls on election night. The pieces were buttery, empty nostalgia held together with 1,000 individual dark contortions. I resented the fact that I literally couldn't see the forest for trees. I'd never get through this one.

November 4th, November 5th. I did finish, eventually. And then I shut it back up in its box the next morning. It was over. It's damn well over.


November 17th. Wildfire ending rain, San Francisco back in the corona red. The pandemic is far from over, and podcasts wait for no woman. 

Send puzzles, please.