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Life on my own #12: Tangrams

The fantastic thing about living on my own is that there’s nobody around to bother me in the evenings I’m at home.

On the other hand, it’s also the most confounding aspect.

My dilemma is this: I like my alone time and my apartment provides plenty of it. Sometimes a little too much. I get stir-crazy or bored, watching a movie every night that I’m not occupied elsewhere. I must have watched about a third of the movies at the public library by now, since my own collection consists of precisely eight DVDs and about an equal number of VHS tapes.

Goodwill is a worthwhile source of VHS tapes, by the way. I found the old Indiana Jones movies, “The Pagemaster” (great animated flick for book nerds), and a number of other fine movies there during the 50-cent sale. I did not own a single VHS tape when I moved to this apartment, nor did I have to spend an arm and a leg to acquire the new movies I found on VHS since.

Back to the subject. I’ve seen the movies I bought too many times for them to be of any use in my stir-craziness. It’s gotten so bad that I don’t even want to watch any movie of an evening. Then if it’s after dark, reading is out because of the dim CFL bulb that so pitifully lights my living room. So much for energy savings. (I did venture to finish some books these last few days, a welcome return to my old habit of devouring multiple books per week. But my eyes can handle only so much reading before they start crossing, you know.)

Enter the gift card. The gift card, you see, is the heaven-sent blessing endowed to young adults whenever their older counterparts wish to reward them. I received a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble on just such an occasion. It was the gift card perfect for me, yet it took months to decide what I would buy with the blessed gift card. Therefore, what I received in May I just now spent in September.

My decision? To buy something worthwhile; that was about all I could determine. I took my mom along for the ride and spent an hour browsing the shelves before suddenly finding the perfect book: “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. The book was a pre-class assignment for the journalism course I took in New York last summer. It was witty, wise and wonderful as far as my (alliterative) memory could recall. Best of all, I remembered thinking it would stand re-reading.

But it took up just over half my gift card. I still had $10 to squander on something else.

I went back toward the front where the store always keeps its “bargain buys” and random games. One game in particular had caught my eye earlier: a deluxe set of Tangrams.

Tangrams, in case you’re not familiar with them, are a set of miscellaneous shapes—mostly triangles, but there’s a square and a parallelogram in there too—that may be arranged to form the figures set before you in a book. The catch is that the book shows only the silhouette of the figure you’re supposed to be forming, not the shape outlines that show what piece goes where in order to get the final figure. It’s a puzzle game, an especially spatial one, and for heaven knows what reason, those spatial games hold a peculiar, irresistible attraction for me.

Hallelujah: the price was just right. I walked out of that store with a very nerdy bundle.

The book and the game came home late Wednesday night. Saturday morning, when I tired of cleaning, I opened the Tangrams. And I spent about two hours solving twenty Tangrams puzzles just that day.

Shift, shift, shift the pieces, shift the pieces right. Oops, that’s not what the book shows. Let’s try this arrangement…

Hey, it beats watching another movie!


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