Welcome to The Nervous Rack

“The unexamined SCRABBLE© life is not worth living.”

– Socrates

Scrabble will teach you things about yourself you don’t necessarily want to know: that you’re a poor speller although you have a doctorate in English; that your personality borders on the obsessive; that you hate losing. I mean, really hate losing. Especially to your husband. And to lower rated players. And to higher rated players who are not very nice people. Playing competitive Scrabble is like carrying around a barometer that measures emotional well being and psychological stability. Very often my barometer readings suggest thunderstorms lurking on the horizon.

I brought up the idea of a Scrabble blog with my writing group, five women who teach English at Eastern Illinois University. Between us, we’ve published seven books. Four of us have played in Scrabble tournaments. My friends thought it was a great idea, especially if I focused on aspects of the game that are more personal or quirky: the nature of competition, the vagaries of the English language, Scrabble dreams, the people who play the game in our club here in Charleston, Illinois.

We thought of names for the blog.

“How about Scrabble Diva?” I asked.

“Anything diva is so yesterday,” said Roxane Gay, the most famous member of the group. Roxane blogs for the Wall Street Journal and will have a short story appearing in Best Short Stories of 2012.

“Scrabble Goddess?”  I pondered.

I’m not really a Scrabble goddess. I’m an intermediate level player with no delusions or burning desire to be an expert. Robin Pollock Daniel is a Scrabble goddess.

“How about Barely Above Average?” I continued.

“Too clunky,” said Angela.

Angela is a solid Scrabble player. When she first came to our club she was barely above average, totally not getting the hang of pyramiding high-point tiles. She is now a force to be reckoned with.

“How about something with rack?” said brilliant Ruth, who doesn’t play Scrabble, which is probably just as well for the rest of us.

“How about The Nervous Rack?” piped in Mary, a graduate of the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She knew Raymond Carver and John Irving and a bunch of other really famous writers, and probably got drunk with them.

Mary and I have a lot in common. We both love pretty expensive things. Make that pretty, expensive things. We tend to get morose when we lose at Scrabble, which can make for an interesting situation since we often play each other at the club. We are both getting better at losing, however. We just have to remind ourselves that there are other things in life, such as writing and friendship. And going to spas. We love the idea of a combined Scrabble/spa tournament getaway: massage in the morning, followed by a few games of Scrabble. Then a mani/pedi (these are unacceptable Scrabble words, at least for now), a few more games of Scrabble, Dead Sea mud wrap.

We can take it one step further. We can have massages while we’re playing Scrabble. The manicures might be difficult, though. And we’d have to be really careful with the wrap. Don’t want mud on the tiles.






2 thoughts on “Welcome to The Nervous Rack

  1. Wow, you captured my feelings about scrabble and life perfectly. I love the travel, friendships and also love to be pampered. Since I entered the tournament scene in 2000, I have not missed a month of enjoying my favorite competition. I am a mid-level player who aspires to be higher rated, but have learned that I must appreciate the friendships since I can’t seem to become much better at the game in spite of my constant “studying. I am currently in Albany where i finished dead last in the Main Event but am having a wonderful “girl’s trip” with friends that I met while on the “scrabble circuit.” I look forward to reading more of the Nervous Rack.

    • HI Cheryl, Thanks for the comment. My husband just came back from Albany. He played in the Collins division. Said he loved the people in the tournament. I’ve come in dead last several times. Once it happens, it doesn’t feel quite so bad the next time. Not that I like losing….

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