I Am Trying To Become Smarter… Weird, I Know.

Ok SO —

I watch a lot of Criminal Minds, let’s start there. Whether listening to Reid spit out amazing, random facts that he learned from a book he read once years ago, or listening to Blake know the root of every word EVER because of her background in linguistics, I love to see and hear intelligence. These (fictional and scripted) people are SO SMART (ya know, in this fake world but whatever) and it is so attractive to me. I love the idea of being smart, and having that be the first thing someone notices about me.

I also find it AMAZING when Lytton just knows direct quotes and books and authors — it’s actually insane. He’s an encyclopedia. I strive to be like that, very well versed and just brilliant, ya know?

Another one of my role models if Ruth Bader Ginsburg because how can she not be one of your role models… I watched her documentary, and a quote that when she said it made me literally CRY INSTANTLY was when she was talking about her husband and she said “he was the first boy to ever like me for my brain.” And I began to cry, that just really hit the spot with me. I have never had that spontaneous of a reaction to simple words before, it was an unforgettable moment.

It was unforgettable for many reasons. One of which being that I have never had that experience. Sure, I’ve had people call me smart, but I’ve never had that be the reason that someone loves me, or is friends with me. That is never the first thing someone notices about ‘Julia’. But one day, hopefully it is.

So no, I don’t want to get smarter for a boy, but I do want to just be more well-read and better cultured in terms of reading, writing, and language overall. In short, I want to be Lytton (or an FBI agent, or Supreme Court Judge — whichever comes first). With this goal, I started crossword puzzles over the summer and MY GOD, they’re difficult. I bought a book of 500 of them (why I needed that many, no idea) but so far I’ve solved anywhere between 10%-80% of all of them. I have yet to complete one entirely, and no, I don’t cheat.

My goal is to keep this book, and hopefully one day after I’ve studied my butt off and read every book in the universe, then maybe –just maybe — I can look back at the puzzles I never finished and say “damn, how did I not get that answer before?” Once I get to that point in my life (and ya know, have 4 kids, a pool, and a dog named Sprout), I’ll know I’ve made it.


P.S. I also want to learn how to play chess so if anyone knows, teach me!




2 Replies to “I Am Trying To Become Smarter… Weird, I Know.”

  1. Julia,

    First of all, Sprout is a great dog name.

    Second of all, I’m really interested in the potential conversation between crossword puzzles and poetry. It seems that there are two connections to be made, the first being finding words via completing (or partially completing) crossword puzzles. Although I don’t have much experience doing crossword puzzles, I’d imagine there are a lot of difficult or at least uncommon words which could easily inspire or otherwise just work themselves into a poem. Additionally, I think that the crossword puzzle sort of speaks to form in an interesting way. It could be fun, although probably tedious, to write a poem in the shape of a crossword puzzle. I’m big on making the reader work for the poem, and it seems that presenting them with a literal puzzle could be a really interesting way to do that!

  2. I’m gonna take this opportunity to gush about word puzzles, which as Natalie said has some really cool interactions with form but, to be honest, I just think they’re really fun.

    When I was younger, my grandparents would always do word jumbles or “cryptoquotes” (really basic cryptography puzzles where one letter of a famous quote corresponds to another random letter in the newspapers. The classic example that is pretty much branded in my mind is “A X Y B D L B A A R is L O N G F E L L O W”). Those were my favorites. I think they were some of my earliest interactions with words on a much more fundamental, linguistic level and, as a writer, I find those memories invaluable. I’ve also come to be pretty good at sudoku puzzles, but crossword puzzles still kick my butt even though I love them. I know a lot of useless trivia, but the magnitude makes them so maddening.

    As forms, I’ve tried writing some pieces that integrate them. Last semester for CNF workshop, I tried writing a narrative where I simultaneously taught the reader to solve a cryptoquote puzzle while also going through my relationship to my grandparents. Poetry, though, is a whole different beast, but I find combining word puzzles and poems to be so exciting.

    Also, I have some experience in chess (mainly from playing with my grandfather funnily enough). I was never really good at the game, but I really liked doing the “__ moves to mate” puzzles he had in his chess strategy books (what strange things those are now that I’m thinking about them). Anyway, puzzles. I like puzzles. And poetry is cool, too.

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