Chocolate season this year was a real challenge for me. Because I was still adjusting to the new bipolar disorder meds, I was having problems with mild bipolar depression during the first two weeks. Actually I’m not sure if most people would describe it as “mild” – about one day out of three I couldn’t get myself out of bed until around 1pm. From my point of view, that’s still pretty minor, because anything that does not involve hiding under the bed screaming and/or seriously thinking about killing myself is not serious enough to worry about. However, it did cause quite a bit of anxiety, because when you are planning to launch into 120 pounds of chocolate mayhem on a tight production schedule, the last thing you need is to be unpredictably incapacitated.
Fortunately, my mood issues did clear up, right before the beginning of full-on production. (I think the chocolate gods were looking out for me – or maybe it was the antidepressant effect of all that sugar.) And my friends Chris, Susan, and Edie pitched in a lot more help than usual, so everything ran smoothly in the end. But it was a difficult season, and pretty stressful for me.
Once the packing was done and all the packages were out the door, I lamented to a friend that this year’s chocolate season had felt more like an obligation than a fun project, due to the logistical issues. “I’ve been so busy working on the business, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to do anything fun in a long, long time,” I said.
“Well,” she said, “there’s an easy fix for that.”
“And what would that be?” I asked.
“Do something fun.”
(Note to self: having genius IQ scores does not mean you have intelligence.)
In that spirit, I decided to do something thoroughly frivolous that weekend. I had impulsively bought Clemens Habicht’s 1000 Colours puzzle a few months ago, even though I knew I’d never have time to put it together. The 1000 Colours puzzle is just what it sounds like – a 1,000-piece puzzle where each of the pieces is a different color. They are arranged to cover the color spectrum, so each color is next to a similar color, and when the entire puzzle is assembled, the result is a color spectrum that goes from dark at the bottom to nearly white at the top.
I had bought the puzzle because it sounded like an interesting challenge, and because I thought it would be easy for me, since I have a good eye for color. But I’d never been able to convince myself to do anything as thoroughly useless as putting together a puzzle.
However, with my new dedication to frivolity, I dumped the pieces out and got to work. Here’s how the puzzle looked near the beginning, when I was still sorting the pieces. (Fritz very generously decided to help!)
Here’s what it looked like once I started assembling the pieces:
And here we are about midway through:
And here – six hours of work later – is the finished puzzle:
If you are wondering what happened to the two missing pieces, so was I! I asked Fritz and Tigress about the missing pieces (since they had been supervising pretty much continuously, I figured they would know). They told me that they had taken two pieces to spare me the wrath of the puzzle gods, and that, like Amish quilters, I should have known to leave a piece out, since only the puzzle gods can assemble a perfect puzzle. They added that, had I propitiated the puzzle gods properly the day I started, all would have been well, and provided instructions for doing so next time. Apparently the puzzle gods like sacrifices of huge piles of cat treats. Who knew?!?
Anyway, I enjoyed that puzzle so much that – on impulse, again – I ordered their most challenging puzzle – 5000 Colours! This one is a challenge in three areas. First, it’s a 5,000 piece puzzle, and the color gradations are correspondingly finer, so it will be more challenging to put together. Second, the puzzle is HUGE – 203 x 81 cm, or 80 x 32 inches. That’s 20″ wider than our widest table! And, of course, there’s the challenge of putting it together in a house with two delightfully curious and mischievous puzzle gods (one of whom likes chewing on cardboard). Plus there is a TON of other stuff I should be doing – which means I should definitely not be wasting time on anything so frivolous.
But, of course, it sounds like fun. So I am doing it anyway.
(Funny story: I told a friend that I was seriously worried that I was developing common sense as a side effect of the new bipolar med, which would have been devastating, since much of my joy in life comes from doing extreme things that are obviously too silly to be worthwhile. Like spending a year training and sewing just to bicycle 585 miles in a series of custom tutus, like this one:
Anyway, about three days after that I sent an email to a Caltech alumni mailing list asking about the best approach to casting a chocolate phallus 39″ long (and correspondingly wide) and shipping it cross-country to deliver to a hapless friend/victim. The friend I had complained to originally wrote me back, quoting my question, and said, “I don’t think you need to worry about developing common sense.” 🙂 )
So my New Year’s resolution this year is to work hard, but also engage in some serious frivolity. As the greatest sage of the 20th century said,
“If you never did, you should –
These things are fun, and fun is good.”
– Dr. Seuss, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish