TGIM, friendly neighbors!
Enjoy the Now of your shiny new week.
Thanks to National Book Store for another gorgeous graphic <3
Happy almost summer, friendly neighbors! The summer solstice is this Sunday, June 21. Time for flip-flops, popsicles, and lots of sunlight. I don’t know about you, but I’m already in summer mode. Here are some warm fuzzy updates for you as we say goodbye to spring and get the summer party started.
1. HarperAudio Presents did a podcast interview with me about City Love, dreaming big, and how your BF could still be a soul mate even if he doesn’t rinse the dishes. You can listen to the City Love podcast on SoundCloud or on iTunes.
2. We did a New Jersey road trip last weekend so I could sign books at the Bridgewater, North Brunswick, Springfield, and Livingston Barnes & Noble stores. For those of you in the vicinity of these stores who would like a signed copy of City Love or my backlist, here you go! You can find all of my books in the Teen Romance section with a cute shelf talker: Shout-outs to Kara at the Bridgewater Barnes & Noble and Mara at the North Brunswick Barnes & Noble for being the most amazing teen leads ever. They totally put up displays of my books when they heard I was coming. Booksellers and librarians automatically rule, but ones that go the distance to connect readers and authors get gold stars.
3. Speaking of amazing booksellers, I was at Chelsea Market the other day hunting down a Cookie Monster cupcake and was devastated to discover that the bakery had closed. These Cookie Monster cupcakes were my fave. Yes, even more than Sprinkles and Crumbs. Why? Not only were they freaking adorable, but they had that old-school frosting I haven’t been able to find anywhere else for years. Now where will I go for that rush of sweet nostalgia? Moving on (or trying to), I went into Posman Books and found this: This manifesto speaks for itself. Well played, Posman.
4. My refrigerator might be telling me it’s already summer. There were two ginormous watermelons in my kitchen when this week began. Aaaand my grocery shopping was done for the week. Because what else do I want to eat in the summer besides summer fruit? Not a whole lot. You know it’s summer when your refrigerator is dominated by watermelon. I also enjoy living vicariously through Bubby’s foraging journal. When it comes to summer fresh produce, this girl can’t get enough.
5. Hardcore stamp collector teen me still fangirls when I see cute new stamps. Back when I collected stamps regularly in high school, I would go to the post office every month and see what new stamps they had. Things have changed a lot since then. It’s not easy being a philatelist in 2015. So when I was at the post office the other day, I was stoked to see these: Awww! Not only are these stamps totally adorbs, they come with matching stickers to put on your envelope and letter. I would love to see a resurgence of kids writing actual letters, summer camp style. Stamps like these offer some fun motivation. Yay for letter writing. Yay for stamps. Yay for books made of paper. Yay for popsicles and old-school frosting and watermelon. Yay for each and every little thing that brings a rush of nostalgia. There’s so much more to appreciate when you’re all about the little things.
I can’t wait to see what this summer brings. Wishing you a summer that is your best one ever <3
It all started with a pencil.
Twelve was an extremely difficult age for me, but it was also an age when I figured a lot of stuff out. I knew I wanted to be a science teacher when I was 12. I knew my purpose in life as a grownup would be to help teens in any way I could. And I knew that I didn’t belong in Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey, in a small town at a school where I was bullied every day for being an outsider. My true home was out there somewhere. Not stuck in the middle of the woods, completely isolated and feeling so alone. I was determined to find the place where I truly belonged.
I stayed with my grandparents most summers of my teen life. The summer I was 12, I was staying up late watching The Tonight Show with Gram. Gram understood that I was a night person. After Johnny Carson said goodnight, a show called Late Night with David Letterman came on. I asked Gram who David Letterman was. She said, “He’s kind of like Johnny, but wackier.” Anyone who was wacky, zany, dorktastic, a hardcore nerd, or proud to be original in their own quirky way was a winner in my book. So I kept watching. Dave threw a pencil at the camera. He made weird faces. He threw a pencil at the window behind him with a sound effect of glass shattering.
David Letterman instantly became my hero.
I obsessed over Late Night that whole first summer, learning Dave’s tricks and idiosyncrasies. Connecting to things he said in a way that made it clear he was my people, and gave me hope that more of my people were out there. The energy of New York City was palpable. It was an energy that radiated from the screen, an energy that made me feel alive. New York City was clearly my destiny. It was my true home. It was the place where everything that made me different would make me shine. The New York City energy Dave showed me was a drug that kept me going all through high school as I carried hope in my heart that one day I would live there. I looked forward to the time when I could be free to be the best version of myself. As a reminder, I put a Late Night tee on my koala bear Chez, who is featured in When It Happens in the same tee. Chez is an attention hog who has photo bombed several book giveaway pics over the years:
I taped Dave’s show every night. The first thing I did when I got home from school was get my Late Night notebook, rewind the tape, and watch Dave show me more of what I had to look forward to. For the length of his show, I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. I was in on the joke. I was one with Dave’s community. I wrote down the title of every Top Ten list, every description of “And now, a man who…”, and lines that made me laugh. One was, “I’ll give you 500 dollars if you let me take my teeth out.” I don’t know why that line resonated with me. Probably just because it was so weird. I wrote it on the top of an algebra quiz in 8th grade because my 8th grade algebra teacher seemed like the kind of dude who would watch Dave. Dave’s lines became like this secret language I could use with certain grownups to make me feel included in something. But my teacher didn’t get it. He gave the quiz to a guidance counselor who called me into her office and asked if I was okay.
Of course I wasn’t okay. I was miserable. But every day was one day closer to living in New York City. One day closer to when I could create a happy life for myself and start turning my big dreams into reality. And that made surviving worth it. When I say that David Letterman is why I’m here, I don’t just mean here in New York City. I mean here. Along with the books that saved me, he helped me survive the worst time of my life. He showed me a reason to keep holding on.
When I was fourteen, I sent a postcard in for Late Night tickets. They said it would take like a year to get your tickets. The first tickets I received were for April 24, 1989, one week before my 16th birthday:
As you can see from these Late Night tickets (which are so vinatge that the NBC building wasn’t called 30 Rock, or even the GE Building, but the RCA Building) , anyone under the age of 16 would not be admitted. But there was no way I wasn’t getting in. Fortunately this was back in the day when ID wasn’t checked. They let me and my friend in and it was a completely overwhelming experience that made me even more determined to live in New York City.
I became obsessed with New York. The opener of Late Night started by zooming in across the water to the Twin Towers. The Twin Towers became a symbol of hope for me and the focus of every sketch, painting, clay impression, collage, and photographic paper etching I made in art class. I would go to the library at lunch and research New York, learn its buildings and streets, draw maps of the Village. Also in that Late Night opener was a part where the camera zooms through Old Town Bar. Of course I now live on the same street as Old Town Bar. Love that full-circle non-coincidence.
My inspiration for writing So Much Closer came straight from all of this. So Much Closer is the story of Brooke, a Jersey girl who dreams of living in New York City and finally has a chance to move there. This is why I acknowledged Dave in So Much Closer. Brooke wears the same Late Night tee Chez does and nails a Letterman question at trivia night. My publicist sent Dave’s personal assistant a copy of the book. She also included a letter from me in which I thanked Dave for changing my life and making the world a better, smarter, kinder place. See that Late Show ticket from May 4, 2015? Dave’s assistant remembered me from So Much Closer and was super generous in giving me tickets for his final month of shows. I was nervous about picking which day I wanted because it was impossible to know who would be on. But it turns out that I picked the best possible date. Because who was Dave’s guest on May 4?
Oh, you know. Just President Barack Obama. The Universe was totally on my side.
One of the things I respected most about Dave is his passion for improving public understanding of science, particularly with respect to global warming and environmental preservation. Dave had on physicists, environmentalists, and climatologists in an effort to help his viewers understand the detrimental effects we are having on our planet and how we can all be a part of the solution. Dave even had on my old boss from NASA, Dr. James Hansen, who was rocking the same Birkenstocks he always wore to work. But that’s what was cool about Dave’s show. It wasn’t about glitzy appearances and superficial interviews. It was about the heart and soul of us. It was about the truth, and innovation, and making a difference. David Letterman made this world a better place. And I know he will continue to do so, whichever path he chooses to take next.
This is how a guy as weird as I was showed me where I belonged. By dropping watermelon off the roof, crushing car doors in a 90-ton hydraulic press, with “I be hypnotized” and asking what else Just Bulbs has and rocking those Adidas with blue on the back and whipping all of those pencils at the camera. David Letterman showed me that it is okay to be exactly who you are. More than okay, actually. He showed me that by being exactly who you are, you can inspire more people than you’d ever dreamed and help others in ways you can’t even imagine.
Thirty years ago I was a 12-year-old outsider searching for my true home. David Letterman showed me that New York City was my destiny. Thanks for showing this lost girl where she belonged, Dave. Thanks for helping me survive the worst time of my life. And thanks for showing all the outsiders that they are not alone <3
Happy NewYorkiversary to me! Nineteen years ago today, I moved to New York City to start a shiny new life, build my dream career, and find love. Not just any love. True love. The love of my life. I’d always had a Knowing that soul mates were real and I was determined to find mine. New York City was actually my first true love and the inspiration for my upcoming City Love trilogy. All these years later, I still feel the city love every single day.
Growing up across the water in New Jersey, I knew New York City was my true home. I could feel the pull of this magical kingdom even before my first visit. New York is a place where everyone is free to be exactly who they are. No more feeling like an outsider. No more feeling like I needed to escape. When I finally turned this big dream into reality, I knew my whole life would feel completely different in a way I’d always hoped it would. I practiced a lot of creative visualization: imagining my ideal life, writing out my goals, and taking steps every day to turn my dreams into reality. When you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, it’s easier to recognize once you find it. And having that calm clarity allows the things you want to manifest.
Back in my teens and early 20s, I thought that once certain things changed in my life I would finally be happy. I really believed those things had to happen first before I could find happiness. These were some of the big ones:
But I was wrong. I had it backwards. It wasn’t that those things had to happen first and then I would be happy. I had to be happy first and then those things would happen. I had to build my own internal happiness, to love myself for exactly who I was, to allow those external things to happen. When you are at peace with yourself, you are able to attract the positive energy necessary to turn your dreams into reality.
Ever notice that negative people who are constantly complaining about their life never seem to get what they want? Negative energy attracts negative energy. You get what you give. If someone is spewing a lot of negative energy out into the Universe, that is exactly what they will get back. Being happy first is key to achieving your goals…and then your happiness grows even larger once those goals are achieved.
How can you be happy when there are so many goals you want to achieve? By appreciating what you do have instead of fixating on what you don’t. The decisions that you make earlier in life shape your future. Being the best version of yourself ensures that you are creating the best possible future for yourself and your loved ones. Being on your game as often as possible opens so many doors of opportunity for you. Everything from recommendations to internships/jobs to special favors someone in power decides to do for you because you are so sweet/awesome/intelligent. The possibilities are endless. Including the possibility of finding a soul mate.
I refused to settle for less than finding the love of my life. Even when people told me that I needed to settle if I ever wanted to get married because I was in my late 30s and this is New York City where the probability of a woman getting married over 40 is smaller than the probability of being struck by lightning while simultaneously having a piano dropped on your head. Even when people told me I was being unrealistic, that the total package didn’t exist, that true love was a myth, I had a Knowing that the love of my life was out there. I allowed myself to find him by never giving up.
How do you know when you’ve found the person you’re meant to be with? You have this feeling of clarity you’ve never had before. The feeling is undeniable. The feeling tells you the search is over. Of course there are more specific details that are evident to the whole world. One way you know you’ve found a soul mate? Is when you get each other the same holiday card. Like these adorable Papyrus cards my BF/soul mate and I got each other this Christmas:
To clarify, finding the love of your life does not mean finding a perfect person. No one is perfect. It’s just that the love of your life is perfect for you. Soul mates have flaws just like the rest of us. The love of my life doesn’t rinse the dishes before he puts them in the dishwasher. He struggles to maintain the closet organization systems I have established at his place. Sometimes he doesn’t read emails carefully and misses important information. But so what? If I listed all of my flaws, there would not be any more room on WordPress for anyone to blog about anything else. So please don’t misinterpret “soul mate” to mean “perfect person.” Soul mates are real, just like anyone else.
You can find the love of your life. Love yourself first. Build your own happiness. And refuse to settle for less than what your heart desires. Your dreams deserve to become reality. You deserve as much happiness as your heart can hold.
Here’s to infinite possibilities in 2015!
Happy Serendipity Day! Here’s my annual Serendipity Day post to celebrate the magic of this auspicious day with you. Yay for soul mates, positive energy, and following your heart.
Today is Serendipity Day, aka Serendipity Do Da, aka Do Da Day.
You probably want an explanation.
If you didn’t see the movie Serendipity, then not to be bossy? But you really need to go ahead and do that. It’s all about fate and destiny and positive energy and has some amazing New York City scenes. Even if you did see it, you probably didn’t pick up on the fact that Jonathan and Sara meet on December 20. I’m obsessive about those sorts of details, so I totally did. Then I immediately made a note that December 20 will always and forever be known as Serendipity Day.
When they meet, Jonathan and Sara are in Bloomingdale’s trying to grab the same pair of gloves. You know how sometimes you meet someone and there’s this instant intense connection? That’s what happens to them. So of course they can’t just go their separate ways. They have to go to Serendipity 3 (which is only a few blocks away – love the accuracy) for frozen hot chocolates. And then they go ice skating in Central Park. It’s one of those magical New York nights, filled with excitement and possibility.
When Jonathan writes down his number for Sara, the wind blows it away. She thinks it’s a sign that they’re not meant to be together. Or at least, not right now. She’s all about fate and destiny. So she makes him write his name and number on the back of a five-dollar bill, which she immediately uses to buy mints. Sara’s idea is that if the five-dollar bill makes its way back to her, then they’re meant to be together.
If you’ve read Something Like Fate, you can understand why I love this movie. I love it so much that my friend Joe and I used to celebrate Serendipity Day by reenacting the original Serendipity Day’s events. First, we put our names in at Serendipity. There’s usually a three-hour wait for a table around the holidays. I am not exaggerating. Serendipity is a gorgeous winter wonderland right now, all sparkly lights and trees and tinsel. Everyone wants in. But it was perfect because we needed those three hours to reenact scenes from the movie. We would head over to Bloomingdale’s, where we both grabbed a pair of gloves at the same glove counter. That counter doesn’t have gloves anymore so we had to bring the gloves over from the gloves section, but it still counted. Then it was off to Wollman Rink in Central Park. It was always the Coldest Night Ever when we did this. I don’t know how to ice skate, so we would kind of just stand there and watch the glittery skyline and send positive energy out into the Universe.
Then it was frozen hot chocolate time! In the movie, Jonathan and Sara get red and blue straws in theirs. But we always got regular straws. So I asked about the red and blue ones and found out that they don’t have those anymore. Which is fine because those frozen hot chocolates are the best in the world, regardless of straw color. If Joe and I were at a point in our lives where we were single, we would each take out a five-dollar bill and write our name and number on the back (in red pen for accuracy). Then we’d give them to the waiter as part of his tip. Not that anyone ever called us. But that’s not the point. The point is that we put positive energy out there. We took action to create more possibility for finding true love. New York City is magic. This city makes magical things happen.
So. How can you celebrate Do Da Day if you’re not here in New York? Well, if you’re already with your soul mate, you can make frozen hot chocolates and call it a day. But if you are still searching, send positive energy out into the Universe today. Take some time to write down your goals. Visualize what you want your love life to be like. Then make a plan to take steps every day towards finding your person. All of these things will help you get closer to turning your big dream into reality.
Oh, and PS? Serendipity is also home of the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae, served in a Baccarat crystal goblet (which you get to take home), made with the world’s most expensive chocolate, and covered in 23K edible gold leaf. Just in case you weren’t sure what to order.
Happy Serendipity Day, friendly neighbors! Let’s make magic happen.
There are so many spectacular look up moments to have in New York City I can’t even remember all the ones I’ve had in my nearly 19 years here. Or even most of them. Research shows that we tend to remember the experiences we have alone more vividly than experiences we have with other people. A lot of my look up moments have happened alone. They are burned into my brain like a kind of creative fuel I run on. But I had a recent look up moment with someone that I want to share with you.
We were walking around the East Village on a spontaneous cookie crawl. We hit up DeRobertis (good thing since it tragically closed a few weeks later after 110 years) (and don’t even get me started on Bruno closing after 40 years) (and Gobo closing! How can my favorite vegetarian restaurant be closed?!), Veniero’s, and Insomnia Cookies. Skittering around on a sugar high, I looked up and saw this:
The old-school etching above the doorways said Free Public Baths of the City of New York. The building was massive. What was it now? Upon further inspection at the open gated entrance, we discovered the building is now an upscale photography studio. But what did it used to be? We researched and found out something really cool. There was a whole public bath movement in New York City back in the 1840s. People who lived in the old East Village tenements didn’t have access to bathtubs or showers in their apartments. They came to the Free Public Baths, which had seven bathtubs and 94 showers. After bathrooms became standard in apartment buildings, the Free Public Baths closed in 1958. Then it was used as a garage/warehouse until 1995, when it became the photography studio it is today.
How fascinating is that? I never even knew about the public bath movement. And I probably never would have discovered this important part of New York’s history if I hadn’t looked up as we walked by.
In a city where old-school institutions are closing due to skyrocketing outrageous rents, it’s reassuring to look up and see that the historical flavor of New York City is still all around. I will continue to look up…and learn way more about my city love.
1. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might know that I like to work out. I’ve been working out since I was 16, doing aerobics in front of the TV with Charlene Prickett on a very 80s show called It Figures. We’re talking leotards, belts, and leg warmers. Then it was on to a lot of step in college. Other classes in grad school. Since then I’ve been into kickboxing, boot camp, yoga, Pilates, hip-hop dance, and total body with a few trainers. Currently I’m all about the Zumba, Bodypump, and core. In over 20 years of working out at many gyms, Kara Doyle is by far the most amazing fitness instructor I’ve ever had. She is in permanent beast mode. She is dorktastic in the best possible way. She has dazzling positive energy that motivates her students to work harder and inspires us to be better. I’ve only been working out with Kara for about three years, but in that time she has shaped me into someone who, for the first time ever, might actually be in rehearsal for the gun show.
So I was bummed to see that no one’s ever buying tickets to my gun show while Jim Wittig is working it:
Muscles much? Jim is fierce. He does not play. Actually, he does play hard after he works hard. My BF/soul mate (who is Jim’s cousin) took this photo of us at Jim’s poolside gym. At his gorgeous beach house. That sleeps 22 people. Um, yeah. Jim wins.
2. Happy 20th Anniversary to my favorite comic strip of all time, MUTTS! Patrick McDonnell does such a beautiful job of creating sweet, sensitive artwork that raises awareness of animal rights while encouraging everyone to treat the world around them with respect and admiration.
May your pink bubble wishes for peace and harmony blossom.
3. Some of you have been asking me if the reference to Red Bedroom Records in Now and Forever is the same Red Bedroom Records from One Tree Hill. They are absolutely the same! One thing I love about writing teen novels is adding the kinds of quirky details I love reading in books. I adore making connections that resonate with me and I am thrilled when you love them, too!
4. Speaking of Now and Forever, Jean BookNerd just posted a fresh interview with me and included a giveaway of three signed copies of the book! Thanks for being so awesome, Jean.
5. I really don’t want to admit this. But. After much denial, I have to say that it’s getting kind of chilly. Like dipping down into the 50s at night. I’m doing my best not to let the end of summer get to me. We officially have one more week of summer left. The autumnal equinox is September 23 this year. And you best believe I will be working it endless summer style until then. This summer girl does not want to put her flip-flops away. No one should ever have to put their flip-flops away. Unless, you know. You love fall. If fall is your season, then yay for you! I’m sure you will be working those sweaters and scarves like nobody’s business.
6. It seems that I may have developed a slight addiction to ModCloth dresses. If by “slight,” I mean “severe.”
This was my summer fave. We called it the mermaid dress. See you next summer, mermaid dress. Tear.
7. An apartment one block from my place is being sold for $16 million. Of course it is on my dream home list. Don’t get me wrong. I totally love my place. Buying and renovating my apartment was when I turned one of my biggest dreams into reality. But this is my first apartment, not my last. There will be a lot of changes in the next few years. A lot of big, exciting, groundbreaking changes. Part of my practice of creative visualization involves recording my goals for the next three months, six months, year, three years, five years, ten years, and lifetime. A penthouse apartment here in downtown Manhattan is right up there on the goals list. The epitome of working it as a New York City homeowner is scoring the type of apartment that is so you it becomes this peaceful Zen retreat. My home is like that. It is a bright, streamlined writing oasis. But this duplex penthouse at 18 Gramercy Park? Is def on my goal list as a future Zen retreat.
8. You know how the models on my book covers never show their faces? I prefer it that way. When I’m reading a book, I like to imagine the characters the way my mind shapes them as the story unfolds. At the same time, it’s always interesting to see the cover models’ faces. They never look the way I thought they would! Friendly neighbor Ronni found this interview with the boy on the cover of Something Like Fate. Thanks, Ronni! Plus you can see what the cover boy from Keep Holding On looks like and read a short interview I did with him here.
9. For the first time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping count, more than half the adult population in the United States is single. And into it. They’re the growing number of people putting their time and money into making cities vibrant. Only 22% of Americans were single in 1950. Today the number is just over 50%. One factor that’s contributing to more people staying single longer or making life changes to become single? The search for a soul mate. Refusing to settle for anything less than what your heart desires. The key to finding true happiness in a relationship is finding true happiness with yourself first. Snaps for everyone who has the confidence to work it and own it being single, confident, and happy.
10. I’ll end with this reminder:
You are of infinite worth. Never forget that you matter, you are making a difference in this world, and you are loved <3