Monthly Archives: December 2011

How Words With Friends Stole Christmas

I have read so many posts these last few days about favorite books of 2011. Every time, it reminds me of two things: 1) I clearly follow bloggers aligned with my interests if they all love to read as much as I do, and 2) I kind of forgot to read this year.

When I left for our trip to Ohio to spend Christmas with JB’s family last week, I was so excited for the new books I had downloaded onto my Kindle. I even promised a review of them when we returned in my last post.

Well, we’re back. And unless you want to hear about the first third of The Art of Fielding, I got nothing for you.

There are many parties to blame for this, none of which are me, of course. First, there is Martha Stewart. The winter edition of her Weddings magazine had hit the stands and it basically jumped out of the airport bookstore into my bag. So most of the flight to Cleveland was spent reading about crafty wedding DIY projects that I will never DIY.

The next excuse is fuel for the fire of the e-Reader vs. traditional book debate. Halfway through our trip, I knocked my Kindle off the couch (consuming a mixture of wine, chocolate, nuts and cookies between meals will make you kind of clumsy). It fell onto carpet, but for whatever reason, it damaged the screen. I tried to read on the Kindle app on my iPhone, but it’s not very practical for long-term use.

So I was left with no option. After a couple  of days of watching JB and other family members of his stare down at their phones instead of each other as they searched for two-letter words that no one has ever heard of but somehow add up to 54 points, I wanted in on the Words with Friends action.Scrabble Points Throw Pillow

I had defiantly denied requests to join this mobile game. My main reason being that I didn’t want my friends to see what a limited vocabulary I possessed. Many people assume because I like to read and write or because I have a journalism degree, that I must have a generous grasp of the English language.

But I don’t. I’m frequently using a thesarus to sound smarter. And it actually wasn’t in my journalism studies when I noticed this, but rather in graduate school for my counseling degree. You do a lot of reflecting of emotions in counseling sessions, saying back to the client what they were emoting, but using a different word for that emotion (so it’s not parroting) and ideally, a word with deeper meaning that maybe the client was having a hard time expressing or realizing on his/her own. And while I role-played with classmates, I always struggled to find another word for “happy” or “sad” or “surprised” or “disappointed.” Or the word I often defaulted to — “frustrated.”

All this to say that since then, I have been very cognizant of my not-so-way with words. And I didn’t want to play with Words with Friends and expose myself to the three friends who had asked me whole world.

But as it turns out, Words with Friends has NOTHING to do with vocabulary! Or being smart. Or knowing what words are at all. It is all about trying every combination you can with the letters you have to find a word that includes a triple letter or double word tile. I probably recognize only 60 percent of the words I play, but man it feels good when the “sending move” screen comes on and you know your word has been accepted. Fifty points for “Xi” — awesome! Just don’t ask me to use it in a sentence.

JB’s father kept saying we all looked like 19-year-olds with our heads buried in our phones playing the game against each other. I think he was being generous by giving us 19 instead of 12, but it did take over the week. I’m still cutting my teeth on the game so I’m only playing JB (and another player whose screen name is one-off from JB and I accidentally started a game with him). JB had to go back to work today and his moves became very infrequent. It was so annoying.

Yep, I’m hooked.

Are there any mobile games that you are addicted to? Anything “take over” your holidays? Did you know “neif” was a word? (For the record, WordPress did not).

You Know It’s The Holidays When…

After withdrawing cash from the ATM, the account balance on your receipt forces you to rush back to work and go online to check your account activity. You are ready to call the bank to inform them that your account has been compromised and someone has depleted your funds. This can be the only explanation for the balance amount. And it turns out you are right. Someone has depleted your funds. You. All you.

You devour three Hershey’s Kisses Candy Canes in your office before you even take off your jacket in the morning.

You’re wearing the same “outfit” to work that you wore to run errands this weekend.

You’re watching people eat bugs and swim in cow blood. I guess it’s subjective in terms of what television makes you puke. JB would probably say Grey’s Anatomy or The Bachelor are pretty nauseating. However, it is only when those and all the other shows are on holiday hiatus that you may find Fear Factor acceptable television.

You think obsessively about what you are going to wear to spend the holidays with your future in-laws. Will the grandmothers think this sweater is fashionable? How many pairs of boots fit in my suitcase (Do I need every pair I own?)? Did I wear this last year? Are these pajama bottoms cute for Christmas morning?

Above else, you are steeped in tradition. One of my personal favorites is the Secret Santa-esque gift exchange my high school friends and I arrange every year. We do everything through the great website Elfster. This year, JB and I hosted a potluck brunch for the exchange. Check out the tortas JB made (one with sausage and one with chicken sausage for his kosher-style fiance!). I was so impressed, especially because he did it all with me pacing and stressing that we wouldn’t be ready for our guests. I like to call that the “front of house” duties.

The friend who was assigned to me got me exactly what I wanted — an Amazon gift card. I had depleted it five minutes after our guests left to purchase the books I want to read over the break — The Marriage Plot and In the Garden of Beasts. I’ve been longing for some reading downtime and will review them on the blog once I finish them.

This is truly a fun, stressful, busy, relaxing, gorgefest time of year. I hope it is the same for all of you. And with permission to post, on behalf of the future Mr. and Mrs. JB, best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful new year!