board game nirvana

My fellow board gaming nerds will love this big news. There’s a new Monopoly token. One of the less popular tokens was replaced with a shiny new design. The iron is out. I never really liked the iron anyway. Or the shoe. Maybe if it were a cute shoe. But the shoe was what you had to be if all the other tokens were already taken. Oh, and the thimble. Who wants to be the thimble? Get ready for this fresh choice. The shiny new token is a cat.

Monopoly cat token

That cat looks awesome. He’ll be appearing in the new edition later this year. I am going to be on that cat so fast it will make the wheelbarrow spin.

Why do I love old-school board games so much? Not just because I have serious affection for everything old-school. Board gaming has always been one of my fave activities. I grew up playing Monopoly, Sorry!, Parcheesi, Clue, and the rest of the classics with my friends. That was back in the day before we had screens to stare at other than the TV. There’s something so nostalgic and happy about playing board games. Every time I play one, that warm fuzzy feeling comes rushing back.

That’s why I’m a grownup who belongs to a board gaming group. Not just any board gaming group. My group is hardcore. These guys play games I’d never even heard of. My fave is probably Asara. You get to build castles. As a Sometimes Princess, I appreciate the castle theme. I also love Puerto Rico and Settlers of Catan. Here’s Settlers in action:

Settlers of Catan

These games take about three hours to play. Which is nothing compared to what a lot of the hardcore gamers play. They’ll spread out these elaborate boards that take up five tables with a dazzling array of pieces, cards, figures, puzzles, shards with magic powers…and one game will take like seven hours to play. These games require serious commitment. They require snack breaks. Lighting effects have even been known to occur.

So you can understand that most of these guys scoff when my friend Stephen busts out The Climbers:

The Climbers

Climbers is such a cute game. It’s not a board game, but we sneak it in before we get a group together for the main action. You have to use full blocks, half blocks, and ladders to be the highest guy standing at the end. The game ends when it’s impossible for anyone to get any higher. Of course I had to document the first time I played Climbers and won. My guy is the light blue one on the right. He is only a half block above the next highest guy. That was a tight game.

Sometimes in the park or wherever I’ll see little kids glued to their electronic devices who can’t even look up for three seconds to take in the world around them. It makes me sad. Sad that they’re not connecting with the Now. Sad that they’re missing all the real world action happening around them. It makes me sad to think that, by the time they’re teens, playing an old-school board game may be reduced to some archaic ritual their parents remember from back in the day.

I’ve made a pact with myself to do everything I can to encourage old-school activities. A winter night in playing Monopoly, drinking hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, and talking to friends in real life instead of through a screen might seem boring. But being fully present in the Now and connecting to people in an authentic way are two things we should do every day.

And if kids are reluctant to turn away from the screen? There’s always a shiny new cat token to shake things up.

memory lane

What I’m about to say might sound so 2008, but I’ve been slowly uploading photos to my blog archives here on WordPress that were still being hosted by LiveJournal (aka the ex BF who cheated, lied, and basically made my life miserable). I am aware that everyone’s moved on to Tumblr and other bloglite forms of communicating in smaller snippets. The thing is, I love this blog. I love being able to share news about my books and cupcakes and whatever quirky stuff I want to without having to cram it all into 140 characters. Plus I’ve been using tags since I started this blog five years ago. That makes it way easier for you guys to find info that will hopefully be helpful to you in some way.

It would have been awesome if the photos transferred along with my blog posts when I imported this blog to WordPress last summer. But the world doesn’t work that way. Yet. I had two options: Upload each photo individually to WP or lose all of the old photos when I deleted my LJ account. As someone who hopes you might enjoy the archives, I went for option one. Going back through all those old entries was actually pretty fun. There were random things I’d forgotten about, epic events to relive, meltdowns and milestones. A walk down memory lane always brings clarity.

In case you’re interested in revisiting the highlights, here are some of my fave posts:

Hot gossip – In which I go fangirl on Steve Martin, Gossip Girl style.

John Mayer, front row center 2.25.10 – In which I score front row center seats at Madison Square Garden for John Mayer’s Battle Studies tour. A huge dream come true. One of the best nights of my life.

Kiefer is a friendly neighbor – In which I meet up with Kiefer Sutherland in our neighborhood. Yeah, we’re tight like that.

Copy that and Kiefer’s other GF – Sequels to above.

David Duchovny on my block – In which David Duchovny films an ep of Californication right outside my door. Literally. Right outside my door.

Jon Stewart is my BFF – In which Jon Stewart is my BFF.

Jeremy P. and me sitting in a tree – In which I kick back with Ari Gold, Entourage style.

Book tour, part one – In which I meet Wilson from Cast Away.

Santorini, finally – In which I visit Santorini, the most beautiful place on Earth.

It will be interesting to see where social media takes us five years from now. Until then, I will keep posting. Thanks so much for reading!

susane vs. fibroid – ultimate smackdown

Remember when I had surgery a few months ago?

Yeah. It didn’t work.

Back in December, I told you guys about the evil fibroid who was taking over my life. My doctor thought the surgery was successful. But then I was like, Wait, why am I still having the same symptoms a month later? Being the eternal optimist, I kept telling myself I was just taking longer than normal to heal. Any day now I would wake up without pain. Any day now the bleeding would stop. I had so much hope, even on the worst days.

Then Dexter Morgan knocked on my door for some blood spatter analysis. With backup.

Dexter Morgan does not need backup.

It was time to get a second opinion.

See, this is when it’s good to be friends with doctors. My best friend from college, Laila, found an amazing surgeon for me. My new doctor is the best. At first she wanted me to have a hysterectomy. That’s the only way to fix the problem completely and ensure that it will never come back. But then a few weeks ago, we were able to see the fibroid for the first time. Yay, technology! She decided that if she did a myomectomy (slicing out the visible part of the fibroid) and repeated an ablation (removing the endometrium), my chances of recovery would be excellent. So that’s the plan.

I’m having surgery tomorrow, April 12. You guys were so incredible last time with all of the healing energy and encouragement you sent. If you have a chance, please send some positive energy my way tomorrow. I know that it will work this time – it HAS to work this time – but I’m still terrified. I just have to keep reminding myself that everything will be okay. Lots of people are dealing with much worse than an evil little fibroid. People survive brain surgery. People survive quintuple bypass surgery. My friend Peter’s heart was on a freaking plate. What I have is curable. So I just need to get a grip. Things could always be much worse.

You wouldn’t believe how many people have told me that their sister/mother/friend/student  is dealing with the same fibroid issues. I never realized how common this was before. Now it seems like every single person I know knows at least one woman who has faced down fibroids. Make no mistake. Tomorrow will be an ep of 24 that will not end well for the evil fibroid. Jack Bauer is enraged. The evil fibroid stands zero chance.

Talk to you soon.

susane vs. fibroid

I’m having surgery tomorrow.

I’m kind of terrified.

Recently I mentioned that I’d been dealing with a health issue for a while. I wasn’t sure if I was going to post anything specific about it. But this is actually a very common issue among women, so I’ve decided to share in case any of you have to face the same problem at some point. Which I really hope you don’t.

A radiologist told me that about 90% of women get fibroids at some point in their life. Fibroids usually grow in or around the uterus and can cause major problems. A lot of pain. A lot of bleeding. I have a very small fibroid. You’d think it wouldn’t be a big deal. But this freaking fibroid stole my entire summer. It took away work days. There were many days this summer and fall where I couldn’t stand up straight, or sit in a chair, or even leave my apartment. I don’t want to gross you out with the details, but it was disgusting. Five months of my life were a nightmare. Which, hey, compared to six years of that whole junior high/high school nightmare, wasn’t so bad! My life will never be that bad again. This knowledge comforts me.

It’s also comforting to hear about people who’ve survived much worse medical issues. David Letterman had a quintuple bypass. A friend of mine had a quadruple bypass, during which his heart was removed and put on a plate. A friend’s mom just had over two feet of intestine cut out. Another friend’s mom just had a hip replacement and was walking around the next day. Other people’s stories make my own less scary. They are all fighters and I will fight on as they have.

But I’m still scared. So if you could send some positive energy my way tomorrow, I would very much appreciate it.

Tomorrow morning I will get into Jack Bauer mode. Jack Bauer is going dark. He’s taking this fibroid down da Vinci style. You will not win this one, fibroid. Drop your weapon! You are DONE.

holiday cheer

Congrats to my holiday contest winner, Catherine S.! I was so impressed with all of the correct answers I received. To refresh your memory, the trivia question was this: Which two characters from Take Me There appear in So Much Closer? Both first and last names are required. The correct answer: Rhiannon Ferrara and Danny Trager. In So Much Closer, Brooke meets Ree doing some moon sketching near the Zen garden. And Danny is spotted at Strawberry Fields jamming on his guitar with the other Beatles fans. Connecting my books in little ways like these is something I’ve loved doing from the start. I’m actually working up to something way bigger. Vague much? Sorry, it’s a top secret endeavor. But all will be revealed eventually…

More holiday cheer is in the house. You know how I’ve been obsessing over the lack of Christmas tree fragrance this year? Consider that mystery solved! I was walking by a Christmas tree lot (stand? pop-up?) on the corner of Leroy and Hudson the other day. As always, I stopped to sniff the trees. I was again disappointed by the lack of pine fragrance. So I asked the guys in charge what was up. Dude! They totally knew! A combination of warmer temps and lack of rain has resulted in pine needles being less brittle. When it’s colder, brittle pine needles snap off, allowing more sap scent to escape. Hydration also causes the scent to be emitted. I’m so relieved to know this is meteorologically related and not, say, the end of the world. Shout-out to Scott of SoHo Trees for explaining everything! They even gave me a piece of tree trunk for my radiator. Which smells almost as good as my new old-school snack addiction, Jiffy Pop.

Jiffy Pop is delicious

If you live here in New York and are looking for a tree, please know that SoHo Trees delivers and decorates for you. Here’s Kelly Ripa raving over how awesome they are.

Speaking of Christmas trees, I’m going to see the tree at Rockefeller Center tomorrow. You would think that I’d already seen the tree since I live like five subway stops from 30 Rock. But no. It’s just one of those touristy things I never do unless a friend is visiting (along with battling the crowds in Times Square, going to the top of the Empire State Building, and…I was going to say visiting the Statue of Liberty, but I’ve actually never visited. But I can see the Statue of Liberty from Hudson River Park and it’s always comforting). My good friend from high school, Paula, is visiting tomorrow. We’re seeing the tree and doing other festive Christmasy things that I wouldn’t normally do on my own. So yay for friends that bring the holiday cheer!

I probably shouldn’t mention this in the midst of all the cheer. But I feel compelled to tell you that I’m not sending out holiday cards this year. Not to be a Grinch about it, but it seems like hardly anyone sends them anymore. Or appreciates them. It’s one of those beloved traditions that’s fading. I realize I’m not helping. I just…I don’t know. This time of year is always hard for me. The post office threatening to cut Saturday delivery and eliminating tons of locations makes me sad, both as a vintage mail enthusiast and a philatelist. Clearly, I am in need of a mood enhancer. Good thing I’ll be seeing the big tree tomorrow. And the holiday windows in midtown. Maybe we’ll even go to Serendipity for frozen hot chocolates. That place is seriously decorated. And seriously delicious. Bring on the chocolate…and the cheer!

thank you

Happy Tofurky Day! Are you ready to get your sides on, fellow vegetarians? You know it’s all about the sides.

Tofurky Thanksgiving Feast

But this day doesn’t just involve a ridiculous amount of eating. This is a day to give thanks. So I want to say thank you to YOU, friendly neighbor reading this blog. Thank you for tolerating my weird, tangential ramblings. Thank you for being such an amazing support system. Thank you for giving me feedback and links to fun stuff you know I like. Thank you for sharing your experiences and dreams with me. And thank you so very much for reading my books. You make this life possible. For that, I am infinitely thankful for you.

fabulosity five

1. Whenever I had to buy a new combo lock for school or the gym, I lived in terror of forgetting the combination that came assigned with the lock. Those numbers meant nothing to me. What if I forgot them between classes and couldn’t open my locker and went to English without that 15-page paper that was worth like half our grade? I even taped a tiny strip of paper with my combination to the back of my gym lock until I was sure I had it memorized. Which totally defeated the purpose of locking stuff up.

How much easier would my live have been if this existed back in the day?

WordLock Text Lock

This Text Lock by WordLock lets you program a word instead of numbers. Righteous.

2. A new jewelry trend seems to be bottles dangling from necklaces. All sorts of bottles. Not sure how I feel about this.

3. I have a new book recommendation for you: We Are All Fine Here by Mary Guterson. It was one of those books that was so freaking good I kept reading the same sentences over to more fully absorb their awesomeness. I know I mostly recommend teen novels (they’re pretty much all I read these days), but this is a grownup one you will love. Mary says the things we’re all thinking but would never admit. She goes there. You will relate to this book. And in other book news, I heard that Stephen King is writing a sequel to The Shining! Dude, I’ve only been waiting for this since 8th grade when I was reading The Shining for the first time and beyond obsessed with every SK book. The sequel has vampires, but I will make an exception.

4. Jean Villepique was in my high school class. I remember some random things about her, like how she was the tallest girl in 6th grade and how she was popular but never mean. She was in all the school plays. A few years ago, I saw a feature she did in Jane magazine (I miss you Jane – and I really miss you, Sassy!) and found out that she was on The Office. She played David Wallace’s wife. But I’d watched the cocktail party ep she was in without even realizing it was her! I freaked out over how that meant I’m connected to John Krasinski by two degrees. Since then, Jean has showed up in quality viewing such as I Love You, Man and 30 Rock. I just saw her on Modern Family and felt proud all over again. It took her like 15 years to break out. Jean followed her dreams and never gave up. Pure inspiration.

5. Tomorrow is October. Um, when did that happen? When I wasn’t looking, apparently. I am determined to cling to September and the last vestiges of summer with a mini golf/Shake Shack/50/50 night. The second I saw the preview for 50/50 I was hooked. Movie night means I’ll be missing Love Night. But not really. Joseph Gordon-Levitt always brings the love. And we are ready!