Last we heard (in detail, anyway) we were a day away from the tournament and I was getting all nervous as usual.
I attempt to calm myself down with logic and reason: I've competed more than just about anyone else - 30 Stamfords (tied with Miriam Raphael, second only to Jay Kasofsky) and a few other major tournaments thrown in (the dear departed U.S. Open, Long Island, NJ, Baltimore, and even one for Channel 13). I do puzzles every day, usually online and sometimes proofreading so not under tournament conditions, but still they are puzzles. I've done so many puzzles I'm out of current puzzle books, though I eventually hope to finish those old crossword books and magazines lying around. I generally know my way around a puzzle, and I've done really really well.
So WHAT IS MY PROBLEM? Why is my ego and esteem so tied up in this? Life isn't automatically better or magical if you win or make the top echelon; Tyler, Jon, and the other champs can attest to that. Still, there's that adrenaline and fear going full force. I think the main thing I need to train on is the decision-making process. What to do (other than panic) when you just don't know an answer or corner, when nothing is making sense. The ability to let go of that wrong answer that's preventing the right answer from revealing itself. The brute force of going through the alphabet trying different letters when stuck. The plowing through and not giving up.
Or I can just pretend I'm not in a ballroom with hundreds of people trying to be the very best, and enjoy the puzzles. Not there yet, too much fire in me.
So anyway it's Thursday. Because Will's insanely busy with tournament preparation, the NYT puzzles are running late. I went in Wednesday and got the Sunday puzzle out in time for the Magazine deadline, but the dailies were still to come. My hair appointment was at 4 (when I made it, I didn't think there'd be any conflict) and I'd have to leave at 3:30 to get to First Ave. and 50th. I waited around at the Times and the puzzles arrived at 3:15. I was not going to the big event of the year with witchy friz so I flew through Monday and Tuesday and left. They'd just have to understand.
I got to the hair place by subway and walking and had a nice respite of pampering. Ron said he put the signed "Wordplay" postcard ("Hair by Ron") on his wall and a visitor noticed it and gushed about the movie. "I do her hair!" he beamed. I told him to point out how much better my hair looks during the tournament shots than beforehand; I didn't know this thing would be a real movie so didn't have my hair done, and the frizzy mess is preserved for posterity. Ron worked his magic blow dryer and soon I looked human.
Traditionally I go to Ess-a-Bagel for a hot, fresh bagel after the haircut (Ron has moved several times but never too far from there), but I had to go back to the Times and it would be easiest to take the crosstown bus immediately. There's even a 49th St. crosstown that goes to Port Authority so I didn't have to transfer. Oh well, no bagel.
Back at the Times, things went smoothly and it looked like I could join the traditional pre-tournament theater dinner at 6:30 (I've never gone to the show, but I've met them for dinner at least once before). The guys were eating at Ollie's, and I looked online to refresh my memory on the exact street: 44th just off Broadway. I left a bit late (the puzzles weren't going quite THAT smoothly), walked to 7th Ave. and up to 44th, saw Carmine's, thought Ollie's was next door but it wasn't there and I didn't think it was further west than Sardi's. I went back down the block and there was a sign saying Ollie's moved to 42nd between 9th and 10th. Grrr. Finally got there, found Jeffurry, Todd and Adam, and even had time to order food. In the worst case, I could have stayed and eaten after they left for the show but I wolfed down my chicken and cashews in time to leave together.
I walked with them to the theater, but the others joining them already had their tickets and were inside so I didn't stick around to say hello. We'd all be seeing each other the next day anyway. I headed on home.
There were various movies I could have gone to Thursday night but it just seemed too close so I didn't plan anything. Back at home, I didn't do anything special to prepare for the tournament either.