A Year of Perfect Crosswords

I started doing the New York Times crossword each day starting in May of 2018. I’ve kept the practice up since then, enjoying the time when I can just sit there and think through the puzzle and not think about anything else. It’s somehow therapeutic, in a way.

I’m also, quite frankly, hooked. The new puzzle releases at 10pm the night before each new day, and there are many (most) times when I wait up just to be able to do it as soon as it releases. Sleep? Who needs that when there’s a crossword to complete?

I also discovered that the NYT app gives you a gold star if you complete the puzzle without turning on the clue checker. If you just complete it late or with hints, you only get a blue star. Worse yet, they keep track of how many days in a row you’ve gotten the gold star. (Never mind the fact that they let subscribers peek at the answer key, so you could theoretically just copy the whole crossword every day.)

Because I’m always goal-oriented, I decided I wanted to get 365 gold stars in a row. An entire year of perfect crosswords. Today, I finally reached that goal, and (despite the fact that tomorrow’s puzzle is a Tuesday, and I’m sure I could get a gold star easily), I’ve also decided that I’m going to deliberately throw the puzzle tomorrow. That’s right: I’m going to get a blue star on purpose.


Because I don’t want to think about gold stars any more. It’s not a corona thing. I’m still planning on doing the crossword each day, but I don’t want to have to worry about gold or blue stars, and I think my low level OCD will be fine looking at my “Highest streak earned” as being “365” for the next ever.

Getting a gold star every day has not been easy, but it’s been more of a logistical challenge than a real one. I decided early on that I just don’t have the time to pound my head against each puzzle for hours on end. (Saturdays in particular can be really hard for me still.) So I often (gasp!) cheated when I needed to be done. Anything to get that gold star. Now, I’ll just turn on the auto check, and who cares about the color of the star? But beyond that, having access to the NYT crossword each day has been tough to always get. European vacation? Camping trips? Bad cellphone coverage? I came close to losing the streak all the time, and the closer I got to 365, the more I worried about it.

(Yes. I’m stupid. I worry about silly things. Just because I know it’s silly doesn’t mean I can force myself to stop worrying.)

So now, I’ve got the right number, and I can ride off into the crossword sunset. Hooray for that. (These days, even the small victories feel like big wins.)

Stay healthy, folks. And stay occupied!


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