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Confessions of a TETRIS Junkie

By Tara A. Nayak

(Editor's Note: The following are excerpts from the diary of a Harvard student who suffers from acute addiction to TETRIS, that bizarre computer game in which you piece together a succession of falling, irregularly shaped blocks into rows. The author of these memoirs wants others to learn from her experience and stop playing the TETRIS before it's too late--and before they beat her high score.)

FEBRUARY 2: My life has hit peak efficiency. I just cleaned my room, stacked seven completed summer job applications in my "Out" box, and finished the first installment of the 12-week LSAT study program. In my spare time, I memorized all the special commands on HOLLIS and worked out my study schedule for next reading period.

February 3: Today my roommate gave me a copy of TETRIS. It looks stupid and simple. I played one game, and then wrote a list of 30 courses to shop. I played another game, and then reorganized my bookshelf alphabetically, by author. I played another game...

February 4: After revamping my resume, I went over to my friend's room to borrow a few bond envelopes. She was playing TETRIS. She was good. Really good. I sat down and watched her fit the little pieces into the spaces with the eye of an architect.

As she played, she talked to the computer screen, commanding each piece by references to parts of the human body. She called the bent pieces "elbows," and the squares, "toes." She got really excited at the arrival of each long piece. I went home three hours later...without the bond envelopes.

February 5, night: I dreamed I was building a wall with oddly shaped bricks, falling one at a time. But every time I completed a level in this wall, it disappeared--and I had to keep on going. I woke up in a cold, clammy sweat. To calm myself, I played a few games of TETRIS.

February 6: I realized I have not yet mailed the summer job applications. I vowed to do so as soon as I finish the next game of TETRIS. My rommmates said I have messages piling up on the machine, and worried that I haven't gone to classes yet this semester. On the other hand. I am rapidly approaching the high score.

February 7: I am taking a brief break to send my mother flowers to make up for missing her birthday yesterday. I am concerned that the "K" key on my keyboard has been sticking ever so slightly for the last four or five hours--I hope it won't impair my progress.

My roommates are threatening to turn me in to the Bureau of Study Counsel. They keep saying, "Half the solution is admitting the problem," but I think they are just jealous of my superior hand-eye coordination and sense of spatial relations.

February 8: A wall is not just a wall; it is an intricately assembled puzzle. My keyboard broke this morning, and I thought for a while it was all over, but luckily my neighbor has the IBM version of TETRIS. And what's more, it's in color! I think I see a new direction in my life now.

February 9, night: I dreamed a Martian visited me. He said he was recalling all copies of TETRIS to the factory because of copyright violations. I was mad. I chopped him into pieces and hid them under the neat set of colored stacking blocks I just bought.

When I awoke, my roommates announced they would stop bringing me food unless I stop playing TETRIS. I eyed my Swiss army knife.

February 10: My parents arrived in Cambridge with a team of deprogramming experts. They tried to convince me that TETRIS is a communist plot to despoil the minds of American youth. I responded that the Cold War is over, and showed them my new tatoo of Mikhail Gorbachev.

They unplugged my computer.

February 11: I am now in UHS. It's dark in here with all the electricity shut off. I wonder where I can get hold of a pocket-sized Nintendo game with portable TETRIS.

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