Not only did I have an out-of-Monona experience last week, it was out of the Midwest, all the way down to Florida.
Because I couldn’t bring the pelicans, Tampa Bay waves and Taste of Boston ice cream back with me, I did the next best thing upon our return home: I went to Ben Franklin to buy a jigsaw puzzle.
We got slightly addicted to jigsaw puzzles while in Florida. We worked on them late into the night, even to the point of barely paying attention to the Badgers dramatic win against Xavier. Smartphones and all other screens were ignored. We would get to work again in the morning before our activities for the day.
I looked online to find justification for this new habit so I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about it. Sure enough, there were articles that say jigsaw puzzles give your brain a complete workout and help improve memory and maybe even prevent Alzheimer’s. Woo hoo! It said that each time you place a piece in the puzzle, it gives your brain a dopamine boost. That sounds healthier than using carbs, Nicotine, or Facebook notifications for a dopamine rush. 500-1,000 dopamine hits per jigsaw puzzle box is a pretty good deal.
I also noticed articles about how maple syrup is being studied as a possible cure for Alzheimer’s and blueberries help improve memory too. Pancakes, anyone? The New York Times had an article on how to use a “mind castle” to remember grocery lists. So I made a mental note in the kitchen sink of my mind castle to have a breakfast of gluten-free pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup while working on our puzzle. What a great way to begin the day by exercising the brain with the jigsaw puzzle and nourishing it with memory-boosting foods. Plus it will alleviate guilt about not going to the gym.
Unfortunately, one of our cockatiel birds has discovered the joys of jigsaw puzzles, too, and delights in removing pieces from it. Somehow I’m not feeling the same dopamine rush when I place the pieces back into the puzzle a second and third time. It gets a little tiring making sure he doesn’t fly away with a piece. This would be helpful when it comes time to dismantle the puzzle and put it away, but he remained stoically atop the cage while we did that.
Now what was it I was going to have for breakfast? Hmmm.
This Humor Me column originally appeared in the Herald-Independent on March 31, 2016.